WASHINGTON ― Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said Thursday that he opposes impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
House Republicans are planning an impeachment vote against Mayorkas next week over his alleged deliberate refusal to detain and deport migrants arriving at the southern U.S. border.
Buck said the border chaos doesn’t amount to a high crime or misdemeanor on Mayorkas’ part and that he’s a “solid” no on impeaching him.
“It’s maladministration. He’s terrible, the border is a disaster, but that’s not impeachable,” Buck told reporters outside the House chamber.
His opposition will make it more difficult for Republicans to push the articles of impeachment through the House. Depending on how many lawmakers might be absent ― two Republicans are currently out for health issues ― it’s theoretically possible that Buck himself could tank the impeachment effort.
As House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) put it on Tuesday, “We have only a tiny, as you know, razor thin, actually a one-vote majority right now in the House.”
On Thursday, another House Republican had only this to say upon learning of Buck’s plan to vote no on the impeachment resolution: “Then it fails.”
But Buck’s opposition isn’t the only problem. There are too many variables in play — member absences in both parties, the GOP’s incredibly slim majority and a number of Republicans not saying how they’d vote — to assume this is a done deal.
Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), for one, said earlier this week that he’s undecided on how to vote. His office did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
Rep. Dave Joyce (R-Ohio) is also being coy on how he’d vote.
“Congressman Joyce has met with Chairman Green and is reviewing the material that they have provided,” said Sarah Young, a spokesperson for Joyce. She was referring to Homeland Security Committee Chair Mark Green (R-Tenn.), who this week led the committee in approving impeachment articles.
Last fall, eight Republicans joined Democrats in blocking an effort to impeach Mayorkas, and another dozen or so GOP members didn’t vote at all. Some said there was simply no legal basis for impeachment, while others raised questions about the point of holding a vote like this. Reps. Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and María Salazar (R-Fla.) were among them.
Only one of those four GOP members’ offices responded to a Thursday request for comment on whether they support impeaching Mayorkas now.
Johnson spokesperson Kristen Kurtz said the South Dakota congressman will vote to impeach.
“In the last few months, the Homeland Security Committee has established that Secretary Mayorkas has engaged in a willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law. Because of his actions, the southern border is in crisis,” said Kurtz. “Accordingly, Congressman Johnson will be voting to impeach.”
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) says he won't vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, bucking his party leadership.
Buck’s beef with impeachment echoes criticism from many quarters, including from conservative legal scholars, who have said Republicans are bogusly elevating a policy disagreement into a high crime.
Buck has previously spoken out against the impeachment inquiry against President Joe Biden, saying that his colleagues lack evidence. However, he ultimately voted with his party to formally authorize the inquiry last year.
Buck, who is not a member of the Homeland Security Committee that approved the impeachment articles against Mayorkas last week, said that its chair visited him at his office to make the case. He said he’s also speaking to people outside of Congress.
“The people that I’m talking to on the outside, constitutional experts, former members, agree that this just isn’t an impeachable offense,” Buck said.