Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted early Wednesday to advance the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over alleged “high crimes and misdemeanors” for refusing to enforce security measures at the country’s southern border. Democrats have criticized the effort as partisan and lacking in evidence.
The move — which, if successful, would result in the second impeachment of a cabinet secretary in U.S. history — escalated political tensions over immigration, a key issue in this year’s presidential election that Congressional Republicans have also tied to additional military funding for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
The impeachment showdown comes with lawmakers having largely abandoned a bipartisan deal combining domestic border security measures with funding for Kyiv — a package that House Speaker Mike Johnson described as a “non-starter.”
Republicans want to use border security issues as a ‘political cudgel’
The bipartisan legislation that had been discussed included measures to increase security along the U.S.-Mexico border, a demand made by Republicans in exchange for agreeing to military assistance to Ukraine. But Republicans’ rejection of the package suggests that Trump may be prioritizing his 2024 campaign over any efforts to pass border security legislation, Politico characterized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, as saying in a recent meeting. Democratic lawmakers have also argued that House Republicans are using border issues as a “political cudgel,” as Congressman Dan Goldman (D-NY) wrote in a column on MSNBC. Goldman insisted that the Biden administration was doing more than Congressional Republicans and the Trump administration to address border issues, by requesting additional funds to bolster the presence of immigration and law-enforcement officials at the southern border.
Mayorkas’ impeachment has become a global issue
“The extremist minority in the House” that is targeting Mayorkas is “attempting to set a precedent that a minority can stop the government from functioning,” the historian Heather Cox Richardson wrote in her substack Letters from an American, but such efforts more recently resulted in global repercussions, in particular over the question of U.S. support for Ukraine given Republicans’ direct linking of the two issues. Aid for Ukraine accounts for less than 5% of the U.S.’s overall defense budget, Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns wrote in Foreign Affairs, “a relatively modest investment with significant geopolitical returns for the United States.”
Americans have mixed feelings about funding Ukraine’s and Israel’s militaries
Thirty-six percent of Americans say that the U.S. should not send more funds to Ukraine and Israel — the latter of which is also a major recipient of U.S. military aid — compared with 32% who back military financial support for the two countries, according to a recent PBS Newshour/NPR/Marist poll. The responses illustrate the challenge facing the Biden administration in convincing voters of its strategy of sending material to both countries, a Republican strategist told PBS. In particular, the administration’s stance towards Israel — the White House has largely supported Israel’s continued offensive in Gaza, while voicing criticism over its lack of safeguards against civilian casualties — has alienated progressive Democrats as well as international allies.