Senate leaders likely to seek quick dismissal of Mayorkas impeachment case

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testifies on Nov. 8 during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON — For the third time in five years, senators will be sworn in as jurors for an impeachment trial. But the chamber is expected to spend far less time on the charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas than the ones brought against former President Donald Trump — or maybe no time at all.

The Republican-controlled House impeached Mayorkas by a single vote margin on Feb. 13, recommending that Mayorkas be removed from office over his handling of the U.S.-Mexico border. With two articles of impeachment, the House charge that Mayorkas has “willfully and systematically” refused to enforce existing immigration laws and breached the public trust by lying to Congress and saying the border was secure.


Democrats say the charges amount to a policy dispute, not the “high crimes and misdemeanors” laid out as a bar for impeachment in the Constitution.

The 214-213 vote, a narrowly successful second try after the House had rejected the effort a week earlier, was the first time in nearly 150 years a Cabinet secretary had been impeached. And while the Senate is now obligated to consider the charges, Senate leaders have shown little interest in spending much time on the matter.

Under impeachment rules, a group of House managers — members who act as prosecutors and are appointed by the speaker — will deliver the impeachment charges by reading the articles on the Senate floor, usually after making a ceremonial walk across the Capitol with the articles in hand.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., has not yet said when that will happen, but it could be as soon as this week, when the Senate returns to session after a two-week recess.

Senators will later be sworn in as jurors, likely the next day. The Senate must then issue a summons to the official who is being tried to inform them of the charges and ask for a written answer. But Mayorkas would not have to appear in the Senate at any point.

After that, the rules generally allow the Senate to decide how to proceed. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., hasn’t yet said what he will do, but he is expected to try and dismiss the trial in some manner, if he has the votes. Democrats control the Senate, 51-49.

If Schumer can muster a simple majority, Democrats could dismiss the trial outright or move to table the two articles, ending the House’s effort and allowing the Senate to move on to other business.

If Democrats are not able to dismiss the trial or table the articles, there is a second option: They could follow the precedent of several impeachment trials for federal judges over the last century and hold a vote to create a trial committee that would investigate the charges.

While there are no hard rules on how to form a trial committee, the Senate has in the past passed a resolution authorizing the party leaders to each recommend six senators and a chairperson to run it. Those committees had the ability to call witnesses and issue final reports to the Senate ahead of eventual trials.

While there is sufficient precedent for this approach, Democrats are likely to try and avoid a trial if they can halt the process completely.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email