There were four Republicans who voted no tonight against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Reps. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Ken Buck (R-Colo.) and House Vice Conference Chairman Blake Moore (R-Utah) – a member of the Republican leadership.
But Moore’s “nay” vote against impeaching Mayorkas deserves an asterisk. He’s not really against impeaching Mayorkas. Moore voted no so the Republican effort to impeach Mayorkas could live to fight another day.
Moore was on the board as a yea in favor of impeaching Mayorkas. But the GOP miscalculated how many yea votes that they had – as well as how many Democrats present and available to vote no.
The current breakdown in the 431 member House is 219 Republicans to 212 Democrats with four vacancies.
Republicans can only lose three votes. But that’s if all of their members are present. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) has not voted all year due to cancer treatments. Scalise tells FOX he will be back soon.
So as soon as the Mayorkas impeachment vote went to 215-215, the gig was up for impeaching Mayorkas.
At least on Tuesday night.
By rule, a tie vote loses in the House. So the Mayorkas impeachment effort was going down to defeat.
Only on one occasion before has the House ever defeated articles of impeachment. In December 1997, the House only adopted two of the articles of impeachment leveled against former President Clinton.
So what were Republicans to do in order to salvage their impeachment gambit?
House rules enable any member on the PREVAILING side of a roll call vote (in this instance, the NAYS) to “move to reconsider” a vote. In other words, demand a re-vote.
Moore was a yea – but on the losing side. Gallagher, McClintock and Buck certainly weren’t going to move to order a re-vote. So, it fell to a member of the House GOP brass.
Moore changed his vote to no. Not because he opposes impeaching Mayorkas. But now he was on the “winning” side.” This preserved the option for House Republicans to summon the vote again. Perhaps when Scalise is back. Or if Republicans win the special election on Long Island next week. The GOP hopes that Republican nominee Mazi Melesa Pilip defeats former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) for the seat vacated by expelled former Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.). Then Republicans might have some reinforcements to impeach…
Of course, that presumes that other Republicans aren’t absent that day.
As I always say, YOU try to get more than 400 people in the same room at the same time. Members are always away for random reasons. Illness. Family commitments. Funerals. Events in the district. You name it.
Of course, impeachment resolutions are “privileged.” That means any member could just put forth an impeachment plan again right away and the House would have to take it up. But by preserving the impeachment investigation, committee report and other documents, the maneuver by Moore enables the Republican leadership to preserve the impeachment gambit launched by the Homeland Security Committee – and try again. Maintaining that more exhaustive impeachment plan will also give the GOP more credibility if and when they present their impeachment articles to the Senate for a possible trial.
Moreover, having a key member change their vote to potentially order a re-vote in the House is rare. It happens with some degree of regularity in the Senate. Over the years Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the late Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would often be compelled to change their votes from yes to no – in order to call for a re-vote on a failed issue.
Moore’s effort was not unprecedented in the House. But something seen more often across the Capitol dome in the Senate.
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