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Senate kills the articles of impeachment against Alejandro Mayorkas

The Senate made short work of the articles of impeachment against Interior Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Wednesday, ending the historic trial before it began in earnest, as the Democratic majority dismissed Republican Party efforts to prolong the deadlocked process.

House Republicans voted to impeach Mayorkas on February 13 in their second attempt, after initially failing to secure the necessary votes. The Biden appointee became the first cabinet secretary to be impeached in nearly 150 years.

There was less drama in the Upper House, where proceedings ended hours after they began following votes, mostly along partisan lines, to declare the two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas unconstitutional – the one for “deliberate and systemic refusal to comply with the law.” » and another for “breach of public trust”. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski was the only Republican holdout, voting present on the first article.

The blink-and-you-missed-it Senate trial marked the culmination of a mostly failed political gambit by House Republicans seeking to shine a spotlight on the administration’s handling of the Biden administration from the southern border ahead of the general election. But the merits of the case they hoped to bring before the Senate were widely seen as lacking substance and, for some, a distraction from other election-year messages. House GOP says Mayorkas, the first Latino and immigrant to hold the office, committed high crimes and misdemeanors that have never been able to convince constitutional experts, who said the evidence against him has failed to cross this high bar.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer opened the proceedings by offering Republicans a time deal that would have allowed a certain amount of floor debate and votes on trial resolutions and points of order before a possible vote to dismiss the case.

But Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt of Missouri opposed it, saying he would not accept a proposal that would have concluded the matter with the “unprecedented” step of ending impeachment proceedings without a trial. Many Republicans wanted a deal because it would have allowed them to make speeches targeting Democrats about the process and the situation at the border. Without this, only those who had obtained the unanimous consent of their colleagues would have been able to speak – an unlikely scenario given the political issues of the moment.

Schumer then made a motion to file, or remove, the first article of impeachment because “it does not allege conduct that rises to the level of a felony or serious misdemeanor” as required the Constitution. After several rounds of procedural votes, the Senate passed this motion 51-48 with one vote present, thereby overturning the first article of impeachment.

Senate Television

The U.S. Senate was sworn in Wednesday, shortly before senators were sworn in as jurors in the impeachment trial against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

After several additional procedural votes, Schumer’s motion to table the second article was also approved, overturning the second article of impeachment by a vote of 51-49.

The House sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate on Tuesday, and senators were sworn in as jurors on Wednesday. It was highly doubtful that the House would vote to convict, which would require a two-thirds majority – an extremely high bar to clear.

Democrats called the impeachment a political stunt, saying Republicans had no valid basis for the move and that political disagreements did not justify the rarely used constitutional impeachment of a Cabinet official.

“We want to resolve this issue as quickly as possible,” Schumer said during a speech Tuesday. “Impeachment should never be used to resolve a political disagreement. »

He added: “You’re talking about horrible precedents. This would set a terrible precedent for Congress. Every time there’s a political deal in the House, they send it over here and tie up the Senate to do an impeachment trial? It’s absurd. This is an abuse of the process. It’s even more chaos.

A number of congressional Republicans, however, criticized the prospect of a quick dismissal or moving to the agenda.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that senators have a “rare” and “solemn” responsibility to consider the articles of impeachment and said he would oppose any attempt to table the articles. .

“As befits such a solemn and rare responsibility as convening a court of arraignment, I intend to give these charges my full attention,” he said.

The Kentucky Republican added: “It would be unbecoming of the Senate to shirk our clear responsibility and not give the accusations we will hear today the thorough scrutiny they deserve. I will strongly oppose any attempt to file articles of impeachment and avoid confronting the Biden administration’s border crisis.”

Additionally, some far-right Republican senators were trying to find a way to force a full trial, but their efforts were not successful enough to pass as a procedural vote after a failed procedural vote under the party lines.

Republicans targeted Mayorkas as soon as they took control of the House, blaming the high number of border crossings on the Homeland Security secretary as the party faced pressure from its base to take on to the Biden administration on a key campaign issue.

Mayorkas has pushed back against criticism of his leadership, and DHS called the impeachment attempt against him a baseless political attack.

The White House, for its part, has worked to flip the script, citing Republicans blocking a bipartisan border deal in the Senate as evidence that the party is not serious about border security.

White House and Homeland Security officials have been in frequent communication during the Mayorkas impeachment inquiry, strategizing and responding as they publicly called the trial a political stunt. Since Republicans launched their effort to oust the Homeland Security secretary, Biden administration officials have maintained that Mayorkas plans to stay in the post, dismissing the GOP impeachment inquiry into the DHS chief as ” unfounded “.

Instead, White House and Homeland Security officials deployed a split-screen strategy, such as portraying the House majority’s deliberations as a waste of time while Mayorkas worked with senators to conclude a border agreement.

After months of negotiations, Senate Republicans earlier this year blocked a major bipartisan border deal that would have marked a sweeping change in immigration law and given the president broad powers to restrict the illegal crossing of migrants at the southern border.

The deal faced a torrent of attacks from former President Donald Trump and top House Republicans.

The Department of Homeland Security and the White House praised Senate Democrats for ending the impeachment proceedings.

“Once and for all, the Senate has rightly rejected this baseless impeachment that even conservative legal scholars have called unconstitutional,” said Ian Sams, White House spokesman for oversight and investigations. “President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas will continue to do their jobs to keep America safe and seek real solutions at the border, and Congressional Republicans should join them, instead of wasting time on meaningless political stunts. foundation while killing real bipartisan border security reforms.

“As he has throughout more than 20 years of dedicated public service, Secretary Mayorkas will continue to work every day to uphold our laws and protect our country,” added DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg. “It’s time for Republicans in Congress to support the Department’s vital mission instead of wasting time playing political games and obstructing common-sense, bipartisan border reforms.” »

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Manu Raju and Priscilla Alvarez contributed to this report.

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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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