Mayorkas impeachment goes down in flames while Mike Johnson’s Ukrainian headache persists

Mayorkas impeachment goes down in flames while Mike Johnson’s Ukrainian headache persists

Congress had a whirlwind day on Wednesday. The Senate began and terminated the trial of Alejandro Mayorkas, Joe Biden’s director of Homeland Security, over the course of about four hours. Democrats, with their 51-vote majority in the upper chamber, voted to kill both of House Republicans’ long-awaited articles of impeachment, arguing in both cases that their rivals had failed to meet the standard of “high crimes and misdemeanors” set by the US Constitution.

Republicans railed against the largely predetermined outcome, calling it an abdication of the Senate’s constitutional duties and a dangerous precedent that will allow the chamber’s majority to reject any impeachment efforts going forward.

"It’s not a proud day in the history of the Senate,” fretted Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

But Democrats celebrated, calling it an end to a “baseless political stunt” played by their rivals in an election year.

“Once and for all, the Senate has rightly voted down this baseless impeachment that even conservative legal scholars said was unconstitutional. President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas will continue doing their jobs to keep America safe and pursue actual solutions at the border, and Congressional Republicans should join them, instead of wasting time on baseless political stunts while killing real bipartisan border security reforms,” said White House spokesman Ian Sams.

Across Congress, members of the House of Representatives were staying busy (and in front of the cameras) too. Speaker Mike Johnson on Wednesday unveiled his three-part plan to pass a supplemental national security package, which includes military and security assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, while also allocating funds for humanitarian assistance in Gaza. He also unveiled two other bills — one would address the divestiture of TikTok and frozen Russian assets in the US financial system, the second would address border security.

Conservatives are not happy, and a handful announced that they would try to tank a rule allowing all four bills to receive floor votes; Democrats are likely to bolster Mr Johnson’s numbers here.

Oh, and then there’s that pesky little rebellion: Marjorie Taylor Greene’s motion to vacate, now cosponsored by Thomas Massie, could reportedly come up this week as well. Democrats have indicated they’ll vote to protect the speaker from his right wing if he brings Ukraine aid up for a vote — but doing so would inevitably weaken Mr Johnson’s speakership.

It sets up a tough schedule for the chamber over the next few days, with votes expected through Friday and throughout the day Saturday. Democrats, wary of Mr Johnson possibly yanking the Ukraine bill at the last second, are making overtures to Republicans on the possibility of a discharge petition to force a vote. The chamber also continues to work through a number of resolutions and bills pertaining to Iran after the missile and drone attack launched against Israel over the weekend.

With a showdown against the far right approaching, Mr Johnson is facing a very real possibility that his speakership will end imminently. His greatest possible advantage? The weariness the chamber’s members still feel from the weeks of chaos resulting from Kevin McCarthy’s ouster in the fall.

Or as one Democrat, Jared Moskowitz, put it plainly this week: “Massie wants the world to burn, I won’t stand by and watch. I have a bucket of water.”