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House punts on Mayorkas impeachment

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A handful of House Republicans sided with Democrats in moving to punt an effort to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) filed the motion last week, leapfrogging Republican leadership to force the vote. It threw newly elected Speaker Mike Johnson into a messy debate that fires up a disgruntled party base but doesn’t unite his razor-thin majority.

A total of eight Republicans voted with Democrats on Monday night to send Greene’s resolution to committee, effectively pigeonholing it for now.

While Johnson has said he supports what would be a historically rare impeachment for a Cabinet official, he’s also having to contend with a coalition of frontliners, old-school conservatives and governing-minded pragmatists who aren’t yet sold that Mayorkas has actually committed an impeachable offense.

The fight also comes five days before a potential government shutdown, sparking private grumbling that Greene’s resolution is badly timed. She had filed it late last week, forcing it to come to a vote for consideration within two legislative days.

Greene hinted over the weekend that she thought leadership was working to kill her resolution either by tabling it or trying to refer it to a committee. Ahead of Monday’s vote, she warned that “a vote with the Democrats is a vote AGAINST impeachment.”

“It’s time for Mayorkas and the Biden administration to be held accountable for the invasion at our southern border,” she said.

Mayorkas was once viewed as the conference’s top impeachment target. But that effort has been pushed out of the spotlight — and from most GOP lawmakers’ attention spans — by a sweeping investigation into President Joe Biden, not to mention a weeks-long speaker fight that ground the House to a halt.

The Homeland Security Committee is also months into its own border investigation, releasing “phase four” of its findings on Monday. Committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.) has said he intends to complete his five-step investigation before making a decision on whether to make an impeachment referral to the Judiciary Committee.

Democrats, and even some Republicans, have criticized the impeachment effort, arguing that the disagreements with Mayorkas amount to policy differences not high crimes or misdemeanors.

But unlike when Republicans easily referred to a resolution to impeach President Joe Biden to committee earlier this year, impeaching Mayorkas sparks division within the conference.

Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), from a border district, confirmed to POLITICO that he has been trying to build support for impeaching Mayorkas among moderate and swing-district Republicans.

“I am tired of Americans and migrants dying in my district,” he said.

Daniella Diaz contributed to this report.