McCarthy warns of impeachment for Biden border official
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warned that impeachment could be on the table for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during a trip to the southern border with other GOP lawmakers.
The border trip is meant to kick off a week where Republicans plan to seize on the issue to bolster their midterm election chances — and to put the pressure on Mayorkas, who is set to testify to the House three times on Wednesday and Thursday.
McCarthy has been in the headlines for days over audio recordings of him telling other GOP lawmakers that he thought an impeachment resolution against former President Trump over the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol would pass and that Trump should resign. McCarthy denied making the remarks, before audio was released in which he could be heard making the comments.
On Monday, McCarthy suggested that he was not being untruthful because he was answering questions about whether he told Trump, which he said he “never did,” redirecting attention to the border.
“What’s more important than something that happened 15 months ago on a private conversation with about four other people is what’s happening here right now,” McCarthy said, later adding that it is Biden’s Homeland Security official who should worry about impeachment if the GOP takes the House.
“This is his moment in time to do his job. But at any time if someone is derelict in their job, there is always the option of impeaching somebody,” McCarthy said of Mayorkas in a press conference from Eagle Pass, Texas.
“But right now, he’s got 30 days. His first response to us should be, ‘We should not lift Title 42,’ ” McCarthy said. “They’re not prepared to protect, and we cannot sustain what will happen to this nation.”
Title 42 was first implemented by the Trump administration and later the Biden administration during the coronavirus pandemic to turn away migrants at the border. It allowed both administrations to deny asylum-seekers a hearing before a judge. The Biden administration has been sued over the issue and has said it will lift Title 42 on May 23. Later on Monday, a federal judge temporarily blocked the Biden administration from lifting the policy.
The issue has been a political gift to Republicans, who have hammered the administration over border security as vulnerable Democrats in the House and Senate have criticized Biden over the decision.
A GOP-controlled House impeaching Mayorkas is far from unlikely. Republicans need to pick up just a handful of seats to take the majority, and 30 House Republicans have signed on to an impeachment resolution, led by Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), against Mayorkas.
Members of House GOP leadership have not gone quite as far, but on the border trip and through other measures, they are steadily escalating their criticisms.
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) said in a tweet that after hearing from local officials and community members on the trip, she sees the border situation as “absolutely heartbreaking and a dereliction of duty from Joe Biden and House Democrats.”
McCarthy, Stefanik, and House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) also joined a Monday letter to Mayorkas led by Reps. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and Brian Babin (R-Texas) that cast doubt on his ability to carry out his job duties.
“Your failure to secure the border and enforce the laws passed by Congress raises grave questions about your suitability for office,” said the letter, signed by 133 Republican House members in total.
Migrant encounters at the southern border have hit a 22-year high, according to the Department of Homeland Security, though that is partly attributable to migrants making more than one trip to the border under Title 42.
The Biden administration says Title 42 is a public health policy and that it should not be continued because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is no longer necessary. It argues it does not have the authority to put it in place as an immigration policy.
It has also said a return to regular processing under immigration law will make it harder for would-be migrants to surreptitiously cross the border, since the criminally prosecuted would risk being put in jail instead of being sent back across the border.
Mayorkas will address the Biden administration’s budget request for his department before the House Appropriations and House Homeland Security committees on Wednesday and will appear in an oversight hearing with the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Monday’s congressional delegation was meant to showcase GOP unity on border and migration issues ahead of the midterm elections. Both bomb-throwers like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who accused Biden of being a “great business partner to the cartels,” and more moderate members such as Rep. Blake Moore (R-Utah) offered criticism of the administration.
Moore, who co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Future Caucus that aims to solve problems with civility rather than hyper-partisanship, said that he does not speak much to the national media but that he is focusing on border issues because his constituents have brought it up in “countless” town halls.
“Don’t let politics guide you. Address the policy. Enforce the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. It is a compassionate program, it will keep border activity to a minimum,” Moore said, referring to a separate Trump administration policy under legal challenge that the Supreme Court will consider on Tuesday. The policy requires asylum-seekers at the southern border to stay in Mexico while their applications are processed.
Also on the border trip were Rep. Tony Gonzales (Texas), whose district includes Eagle Pass; House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer (Ala.); Texas Reps. Chip Roy and Randy Weber; Rep. Diana Harshbarger (Tenn.); and Rep. Michael Guest (Miss.).
“Biden bears responsibility for this. I don’t see how he sleeps well at night,” Weber said.
Days earlier in Eagle Pass, a 22-year-old Texas Army National Guard specialist, Bishop Evans, died after he tried to save two migrants crossing into the U.S. through the Rio Grande. He went missing on Friday, and the Texas Military Department of Affairs said Monday that his body was recovered.
The tragedy fueled Republican arguments that there is a humanitarian crisis at the border.
“If we’d just secure our border and do our job, we wouldn’t have that loss of life,” Roy said in a video taken at Eagle Pass Monday morning.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has deployed thousands of National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border over the last year.
McCarthy pledged to fix border issues if Republicans win back the House.
“In 30 days from now, President Biden could lift Title 42. It will be unsustainable beyond means of what will happen to this nation. We got to be able to first to stop that,” McCarthy said. “And then, in 197 days from now, we can secure this border once and for all.”