GOP: Vulnerable Senate Dems will ‘pay the price’ for Mayorkas vote

The Senate voted along party lines Wednesday to dismiss two impeachment charges against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, but Republicans believe the vote will come back to haunt vulnerable Democrats on the campaign trail.

Republicans now see the crisis at the southern border as one of their best issues heading into the November election and believe it will play especially well for them in Senate battlegrounds that Trump carried in 2016 and 2020, namely Montana and Ohio.

If Republicans can knock off Democratic incumbents in both states, they will almost surely win back the Senate majority.

They also see it as a winning issue in other swing states such as Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“I think they’re going to pay the price for it. The American people are tired of it,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) said of the vote to dismiss the charges against Mayorkas amid a huge influx of migrants across the southern border.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the vote to dismiss the charges “absolutely” will be an issue in Senate battleground races.

“This actually matters to people. Is anybody ever going to be held accountable for allowing our borders to be broken, fentanyl coming in, people dying?” he demanded. “I think this was really an abuse of the process and that the Senate has put in motion something it will regret but Mr. Mayorkas should’ve been held accountable.

“I think this is going to haunt the Senate and the country,” he said. “I hope it has political consequences.”

Democrats voted in unison to sustain two points of order declaring that the House impeachment managers had failed to allege that Mayorkas had committed high crimes and misdemeanors, effectively dismissing both impeachment charges.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) dismissed the charges as motivated by “policy disagreements” on immigration and border security.

“Everyone knows these were policy disagreements, never rising to what the Founding Fathers intended with impeachment with high crimes and misdemeanors, it was clear as day,” he said.

Wednesday’s vote is likely the only impeachment debate senators will have before Election Day as a parallel effort to impeach President Biden has stalled in the House.

Democrats dismissed the charges against Mayorkas as a “sham,” but Republicans will now look to use the issue to batter Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) ahead of November.

“It’s absolutely going to haunt Tester and Brown and every other vulnerable Democrat who voted against even holding a trial and breaking this precedent,” said Mike Berg, the communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, noting that over the past 225 years the Senate had always either held a trial or set up a special committee to review articles of impeachment received from the House — until Wednesday.

Tester told reporters after the Senate adjourned as a court of impeachment that he isn’t worried about his votes coming back to bite him in the campaign.

“People want to see work done on the southern border. We had a chance to do stuff on the southern border and we didn’t do that,” he said of the bipartisan Senate border deal, which would reform the nation’s asylum laws.

Only four Republicans voted for that deal even though it had the endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) touted it as a “huge success by any objective standard.”

But Republicans still think the Biden administration’s record border security will be a major advantage for their candidates in November.

“I do think in terms of the border, it is a huge issue. I think President Biden really handled this from the very beginning, and I think in his race it’s going to be huge,” McConnell told The Hill earlier this year.

Democrats say the overwhelming GOP opposition to the border deal, which was spurred on by former President Trump, will be a bigger issue in Senate races than votes to dismiss Mayorkas’s impeachment.

“It’s not going to have an impact,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Gary Peters (D-Mich.) said of Wednesday’s votes. “This is just a political stunt. People see it for a political stunt. What’s important is that all of our incumbents backed a bipartisan border security bill that is the strongest border security bill in decades. Republicans rejected that.

“Our candidates are about solutions, about actually getting things done and Republicans ae about engaging in a political stunt,” he added. “I’m confident it’s not going to be an issue for us.”

He said it would be easy to “paint that contrast” in key Senate races because almost all Senate GOP candidates in top-tier races opposed the Senate border deal.

Wednesday’s vote marked the first time in history that senators voted to immediately dismiss a House-passed impeachment measure without holding a trial or referring it to a special committee.

After the Senate voted along party lines to adjourn as a court of impeachment, McConnell called it a low moment in Senate history.

“We’ve set a very unfortunate precedent here. This means that the Senate can ignore, in effect the House’s impeachment,” he said. “We have, in effect, ignored the direction of the House, which were to have a trial. … This is day that’s not a proud day in the history of the Senate.”

Schumer, however, argued that the Senate would have set a worse precedent by tying up the Senate floor for days or weeks to hold a trial on impeachment charges that Democrats argued were in retaliation for “policy differences” with the Biden administration over immigration and border security.

“It could throw our system of checks and balances into cycles of chaos. Anytime the House would want to just shut the Senate down, they could just send over another impeachment resolution and could create frivolous impeachment trial after impeachment trial,” he said.

Senate conservatives say they will retaliate over the dismissal by delaying routine business on the floor, which will make it tougher to pass a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act reauthorization by the Friday deadline.

Conservatives gave Schumer a taste of slow-down tactics to come when they delayed a Monday vote on advancing the nomination of Ramona Villagomez Manglona to serve on the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.

“There will be more of that, a lot more,” warned Senate Steering Committee Chair Mike Lee (R-Utah).

He spoke on the Senate floor for hours after the vote to avoid a trial to vent his frustration with the outcome.

In response, Schumer warned that any retaliatory tactics to slow down the Senate would only hurt the country.

“We have so many things we have to get done for the future of this country that I don’t think that’s an appropriate reaction,” he said.

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