When Republicans won control of the U.S. House in the 2022 elections, we expected they would use their power to push politically motivated investigations. And indeed they have done just that starting with the wasteful and pointless exercise of gathering evidence to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for his supposed mismanagement of U.S. border strategy.
It’s no surprise considering Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) has been clamoring since last year for Mayorkas to resign or face impeachment proceedings. Articles of impeachment were filed in early January, but the GOP effort gained steam last week with a House Homeland Security committee hearing about the effect of U.S.-Mexico border policies.
Among the cast of characters testifying Tuesday was a Michigan mom who spoke about the fentanyl-related deaths of her two sons. Rebecca Kiessling’s story was compelling, and one with which many parents can sympathize. Except that her sons died in July 2020 during the Trump administration and several months before President Biden appointed Mayorkas. Asked about the factual inconsistency, a spokesman for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who sits on the Homeland Security committee, told CNN reporter Daniel Dale in colorful language that, essentially, facts are irrelevant in this case.
Next up was Arizona’s Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb, a possible Republican contender for the U.S. Senate in 2024. He attested to a massive increase in fentanyl seizures since 2018, and in traffic stops for human smuggling and trafficking, though he noted most drivers are predominantly American. How is this related to Mayorkas? Only in his belief that the border is not secure right now.
The truth invariably gets in the way of this bogus impeachment, but thankfully Republicans must still meet a high bar. To impeach Mayorkas, they must prove that he has committed “high crimes and misdemeanors.” They allege that Mayorkas has lost operational control of U.S. borders, and was criminally negligent by failing to prevent unlawful entries into the country by terrorists, undocumented immigrants, narcotics and weapons of terrorism. But, of course, migrants, drugs and weapons have been illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border over the course of several presidential administrations.
The hearing on Tuesday offered an unsurprising look at the U.S.-Mexico border and how it relates to the deadly growth of fentanyl poisonings. David J. Bier, associate director of immigration studies at the Cato Institute, offered possible solutions. More legal pathways for migrants would drastically reduce illegal crossings, he said. And he suggested that broadening distribution of fentanyl test strips for anyone to use to determine whether a drug contains fentanyl would go a long way toward reducing drug-related deaths.
However, Republicans made it clear they are not looking for solutions, especially those with which they disagree. North Carolina Republican Rep. Dan Bishop, visibly agitated, chided Bier for advocating for open borders.
This sideshow is about scoring political points, because even if the House did vote to impeach, Senate Republicans seem unwilling to participate in the charade. (Only once has a Cabinet secretary been impeached. In 1876, Secretary of War William Belknap was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.) Nor would removing Mayorkas change border policy. Biden would simply appoint another like-minded secretary to head up homeland security.
The hearing last week is one of several planned by Republicans along with photo-ops of legislators at the border. What a shame. If only House Republicans could put this much time and effort into working across the aisle to address the real problems at the border.