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A Crisis for Speaker Johnson After Failed Mayorkas Vote?

State of the Union: The failed indictment was an unforced error. 

New House Speaker Mike Johnson Joins Senate Republicans For Their Policy Luncheon

In a blow to Speaker Johnson’s intra-GOP credibility, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives failed Tuesday night to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The 214–216 vote came after months of House Republicans decrying Mayorkas’ open incompetence in curbing illegal immigration. 

Despite immigration and the border shaping up to be the seminal issue in the 2024 election, the Republicans seemingly dropped the ball here. As expected, Democrats voted on the party line against these charges. This included Rep. Al Green of Texas, who hurriedly came in from hospital treatment for emergency abdominal surgery to cast his “No.” 

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Whatever else, the party of the left looked disciplined and of a whole.

But three Republicans -- Reps. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Ken Buck of Colorado, and Tom McClintock of California -- voted against the impeachment. (Rep. Blake Moore of Utah ended up switching his vote to “No” so that the House could potentially try to impeach Mayorkas again.) And House Majority Leader Steve Scalise missed the vote due to medical issues.

“Well, we can basically look at this like a game, unfortunately, and there’s strategy,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene told reporters. The Georgia lawmaker blamed the loss on the Democrats playing the game better than the Republicans—using Green’s last minute vote to their advantage.

The impeachment would have been dead on arrival in the Democrat-controlled Senate. But to some, the speaker's lack of success in the whip count for a high-profile vote smacks of omen. The demonstrated dyspepsia of the House Republican conference toward its leadership (dating back to the 1990s with the sacking of Newt Gingrich) is a now well-known fact, at least the recent episodes.

Making matters worse, some of the representatives who voted “No” had not exactly been quiet about their position. For instance, last November McClintock published a statement denouncing attempts to impeach Mayorkas, calling such an effort “reckless, partisan and unserious.”

Finally, the impeachment (or lack thereof) mess wasn’t Johnson’s only seeming misfire this week. A Johnson-championed bill to provide Israel with more military aid, separate from Ukraine assistance or other budget items, went down in flames: 250-180. Occasionally, one could be forgiven for forgetting there’s a Republican majority in the House at all.

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