House GOP members facing difficult races in November are leaning on the momentum of the impeachment inquiry into Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to boost their chances instead of the one into President Joe Biden.
Republicans are entering the 2024 election season looking to present as many political wins as possible, but months of infighting and struggles over top leadership have made that difficult. Now House GOP lawmakers are worried they will have nothing to come to the table with, leaving their most vulnerable members at risk who could make or break a House majority.
While Republicans have called for the impeachment of both Biden and Mayorkas since they gained the majority in the House, the inquiry into the Homeland Security secretary has gained the most traction, particularly due to evidence and overwhelming support from the party.
Rep. Nick LaLota (R-NY), one of several New York Republicans representing swing districts, told the Hill that the House GOP should prioritize Mayorkas’s inquiry over the one into the president.
“The case is so clear on Secretary Mayorkas, both in this town and throughout districts and states throughout the country,” LaLota said. “The case is clear on the border. We should focus on the clear case first.”
Republicans are capitalizing on the influx of immigrants at the southern border as a focal point of their campaign, and they have the numbers and polling to back it up. U.S. immigration officials reported a record-breaking number of more than 300,000 encounters with illegal immigrants in December, the highest number of people encountered in a single month in history. A CBS News poll from the beginning of January found that 63% of respondents believe border crossings for immigrants should be tougher, compared to 55% who said the same thing in September.
The GOP has argued that Mayorkas is failing to follow immigration laws, pointing to record-high border crossings since he took over the Department of Homeland Security in 2021. They also have accused him of dereliction of duty and violating his oath of office.
The impeachment inquiry into Mayorkas, which the GOP sought for months, took off following two attempts from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) to force a vote on impeachment, sending the matter to the House Homeland Security Committee. Unlike the inquiry into Biden, the House did not vote to authorize it, instead sending it directly to hearings following a monthslong investigation into the border crisis. Last week, the committee held its final hearing on the topic, with lawmakers looking to move forward with an impeachment resolution on Jan. 31. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green (R-TN) said last week he thinks Republicans have the votes to impeach Mayorkas.
Connecting Mayorkas to a policy issue that remains one of the most important to voters has proven to be easier to sell than a vote to impeach Biden, as the GOP has only managed to connect the president to conversational interactions with his son’s business associates and unproven “alleged criminal scheme” accusations.
The impeachment inquiry into the president also worries Republicans representing districts that voted for Biden in 2020. Many from those jurisdictions have argued that support for an inquiry into the president does not translate to immediate support for impeachment.
“There’s little question that he was peddling a brand. I mean, who else would hire the president’s son with no experience for that purpose? That doesn’t mean it implicates the president,” Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-NY) said to CNN last week.