The House of Representatives voted to pause a resolution to impeach the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas after an effort led by far-right Georgia Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.
The chamber voted to halt the bid to remove Mr Mayorkas on Monday following claims from Ms Greene that he had failed in his duty to protect the US border with Mexico by not restricting the numbers of migrants crossing into the US.
This comes as the main issue the House has to deal with this week is finding a resolution to fund the government ahead of Friday that can pass the chamber.
The impeachment was paused after eight Republicans voted with 201 Democrats in the House to send the articles of impeachment back to the Homeland Security Committee, which is conducting its own probe of the secretary – 201 Republicans voted against sending the articles back to the panel.
Ms Greene said she was “outraged” at the vote, according to Reuters.
“We have an invasion at the southern border,” she said. “But all we hear about is send money to Ukraine, send money to this. People want Mayorkas impeached, they want accountability.”
DHS spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg said the GOP was “wasting time”.
“Secretary Mayorkas continues to be laser-focused on the safety and security of our nation,” she said in a statement, according to the news agency. “This baseless attack is completely without merit and a harmful distraction from our critical national security priorities.”
Congress has never before removed a member of the cabinet and even if Mr Mayorkas is impeached by the House at a later stage, there’s the overwhelming likelihood that he would be acquitted by the Democratic Senate.
Last week, Ms Greene also attempted to push for a vote on Mr Mayorkas’s impeachment. The resolution claimed that the secretary is guilty of “willful admittance of border crossers” and it argues that he has a duty to guard against an “invasion”.
Ms Greene also claims that the secretary hasn’t adhered to the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which states that the border can only be regarded as operationally secure if no people or contraband crosses illegally.
Ms Greene’s attempt to impeach the secretary brought back the issue of the Act, which moved into the background after the House GOP remained divided on their power to impeach.
In a July hearing, Mr Mayorkas criticised the notion that he violated the Secure Fence Act, with even some members of the GOP saying that such a standard would be impossible to follow.
“The Secure Fence Act, specifically the statute, defines operational control as not having one individual cross the border illegally. Under that statutory definition, no administration has achieved operational control,” Mr Mayorkas said this summer.
The George W Bush White House said in October 2006 that the act was simply “one part of our effort to reform our immigration system, and we have more work to do”.
But substantial immigration reform has remained elusive.
Former GOP California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on The View last month, calling the current system “stupid”.
He argued that foreign workers should have an easier path to visas to allow them to work legally.
“It’s a stupid system. The system is set up to commit a crime,” he said on ABC. “The system is set up to do something illegally. Why? Why can we not come together, Democrats and Republicans and instead of using this issue always as a fundraising issue for the party to go and sit down together and really to do the service that they’re supposed to do?”
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