The House just impeached Alejandro Mayorkas. Here’s what happens next.

Washington — The House voted to impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday, casting a historic vote that marks the first time a Cabinet secretary has been impeached in nearly 150 years. 

Under two articles of impeachment accusing Mayorkas of “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law” and a “breach of public trust,” House Republicans took the rare step toward removing Mayorkas from office on Tuesday. The vote came a week after an initial attempt failed.

But the impeachment push is all but certain to die in the Senate, which has the final say over removing officials under the Constitution.

Here’s what to know about the Mayorkas impeachment vote and what happens next.

The impeachment vote

The House narrowly voted 214 to 213 to impeach Mayorkas, with three Republicans opposing the move. The vote came after the effort fell short last week, when Mayorkas narrowly survived an impeachment vote as a handful of Republicans joined with Democrats to oppose it. But when House Majority Leader Steve Scalise returned to the chamber this week after being away for cancer treatment, Republicans had the narrow majority they needed to impeach the cabinet secretary.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security said the impeachment push was “pointless,” “unconstitutional” and “baseless.” And Democrats have likewise derided the effort, calling the impeachment a political stunt with no constitutional basis.

“This baseless impeachment will do nothing to secure the border Republicans have admitted as much,” Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement after the vote. “Instead of providing the Department of Homeland Security the resources it needs or working together towards a bipartisan solution, they have rejected any solution for the sole reason that they can have a political wedge issue in an election year.”

Constitutional scholars have argued that the allegations against Mayorkas do not rise to the level of impeachable offenses, noting that under the Constitution, the basis for impeachment is “high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” But ultimately, enough Republicans coalesced around the move to impeach the Cabinet secretary to protest the administration’s handling of the U.S.-Mexico border.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, said Tuesday that Mayorkas “is an exceptional case.” Johnson argued that the border chief “has brought more damage on the country than any cabinet secretary that has ever been.”

“The House has a constitutional responsibility, as I’ve said many times, probably the heaviest next to a declaration of war, and we have to do our job regardless of what the other chamber does,” he told reporters.

What happens now that Mayorkas has been impeached?

The vote does not remove Mayorkas from office, since impeachment is only the first step in the process of ousting an official from their post. The matter now heads to the Senate, which has the “sole Power” under the Constitution to hold a trial that could lead to conviction and removal from office.

It’s highly unlikely that Mayorkas would be removed by the Democratic-controlled Senate, where a two-thirds majority would be required for conviction. Senators of both parties have criticized the House for holding an impeachment vote in the first place, knowing it will fail in the upper chamber.

Still, exactly how the Senate will proceed remains to be seen. Precedent dictates that the chamber will move quickly to trial, but what that looks like — and what the Constitution demands — has been subject to debate.

“[The Constitution] says that the Senate ‘shall’ have the sole power to hold a trial, but that ‘shall’ is doing a lot of work there and it doesn’t mandate it,” says Casey Burgat, the director of the Legislative Affairs Program at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management. “And in a lot of people’s eyes, it doesn’t force it.”

The Senate rules suggest that once the chamber receives the articles of impeachment from the House, they must schedule a trial to begin the following day, Burgat explained. But a majority could vote to “reinterpret” the rules, opening up a number of avenues to speed through, delay or dismiss the impeachment outright.

“Depending on the entrepreneurship of the people there and how much the majority is willing to not do that, they’ve got a lot of options to kind of rejigger the rule,” Burgat said.

The Senate is expected to convene and receive the impeachment articles from the House before proceeding with any action one way or another. Any vote would require the backing of a majority of the chamber and put each senator on the record with their position.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office said Tuesday night the upper chamber will start Mayorkas’ impeachment trial after senators return to Washington on Feb. 26.

“The House impeachment managers will present the articles of impeachment to the Senate following the state work period,” his office said. “Senators will be sworn in as jurors in the trial the next day. Senate President Pro Tempore Patty Murray will preside.”

Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, told reporters that he expects the effort to fall short in the Senate.

“It’ll fail in the Senate,” Lankford said. “If I could use the House term, it’ll be dead on arrival when it comes over.”

Alan He, Ellis Kim and Caitlin Yilek contributed reporting. 

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