Amid a right-wing revolt against his campaign to become the next House Speaker, California Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy visited the southwest border on Tuesday and called on Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas to resign or accept a possible to institute impeachment proceedings.
At a news conference in El Paso, Mr McCarthy, who in recent days has defected from far-right Republicans who have said they would not support him as a speaker, accused Mr Mayorkas of ignoring immigration laws and lying to Congress, citing the the Secretary’s claims that the border is safe at a time when crossings are high.
“Unless Secretary Mayorkas resigns, House Republicans will examine every order, action and error and decide whether we can open an impeachment investigation,” McCarthy said to a series of television cameras.
The threat wasn’t new – Mr McCarthy made a similar trip last spring, warning at the time that a GOP Congress would consider impeaching Mr Mayorkas – but it was a notable change in tone from a leader who spent the weeks leading up to the The election downplayed the possibility that Republicans would use their power to impeach President Biden or members of his administration.
While Mr McCarthy on Tuesday did not commit to carrying out the threat against Mr Mayorkas, he did strongly indicate that he was inclined to do so.
The consequences of the 2022 midterm elections
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“We never carry out impeachments for political purposes,” McCarthy said when asked what specific crimes the minister may have committed. He added: “We know exactly what Minister Mayorkas did.”
It reflected the pressure Mr. McCarthy is under from his party’s far right to use the majority of the House of Representatives to aggressively attack the Biden administration. Momentum has increased in recent days as right-wing Republicans have refused to endorse Mr McCarthy as a speaker, jeopardizing his chances of drawing the 218 votes he needs on the House floor to secure the top spot .
After a worse-than-expected midterm election performance, Republicans control just 219 seats in the House of Representatives, with a handful of races yet to be called. They’re on course to gain just a few more, leaving Mr. McCarthy with very little room for defectors and looking for ways to placate members on his right flank.
Rep. Andy Biggs, an Arizona Republican and former chairman of the far-right Freedom Caucus, said Mr McCarthy did not have the votes needed to become speaker in a Jan. 3 vote. Mr Biggs challenged Mr McCarthy last week for the party’s nomination for speakership. Mr McCarthy prevailed but the record indicated an uphill battle; he lost three dozen Republican votes.
Several others have since publicly stated they would not support Mr McCarthy, including Representatives Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bob Good of Virginia, Matt Rosendale of Montana and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, who told Politico on Tuesday that he was a “tough ‘ No was, expecting ‘many more’ Republicans to take the same position.
Immigration groups condemned Mr McCarthy’s press conference on Tuesday as a political stunt.
“Instead of a serious reckoning with her party’s disappointing mid-term results and genuine efforts to distance themselves from MAGA extremism and the violence it inspires, McCarthy’s trip is a sign that they intend to double down and once again make ugly and dangerous ones Spreading rhetoric about immigrants and the border. said Vanessa Cárdenas, director of America’s Voice.
Ahead of the election, Mr. McCarthy said he has yet to see reason to impeach a Biden administration official, but far-right members of his base have pushed to target the president and several members of his team, including Vice President Kamala Harris. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Attorney General Merrick Garland and Mr. Mayorkas.
In all, 10 House Republicans have either instituted or sponsored a total of 21 impeachment trials against Mr. Biden and his top officials since the administration began.
In a recent interview with the New York Times Magazine, Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene shrugged off Mr. McCarthy’s ambiguity about impeachment.
“I think people underestimate him because they think he wouldn’t,” she said, adding that a spokesman for McCarthy would give her “a lot of power and a lot of leeway” to do his job and “the grassroots.” to please .”
Shortly thereafter, Ms. Greene announced that she would support Mr. McCarthy’s bid to speak.