In a dramatic turn of events on Tuesday evening, chaos erupted on the House floor moments before the vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas narrowly failed.
The unexpected tie vote occurred after three Republican lawmakers broke ranks and voted against the measure. While two of them, Reps. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.), had previously announced their opposition, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) had remained silent on his stance until the last moment. Gallagher’s decision to vote “no” was accepted by Republican leaders, but it resulted in a surprising 215-215 tie, halting proceedings and causing a stir among lawmakers.
Gallagher found himself surrounded by fellow Republicans, who seemed to be making a final effort to persuade him to change his vote. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), a vocal proponent of impeaching Mayorkas, was seen passionately arguing with Gallagher, joined by Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) and others.
Despite the intense pressure, Gallagher stood firm, with his arms crossed and occasionally shaking his head in disagreement. The Democrats urged for order as the vote remained deadlocked, eventually bringing the tied vote to a close.
Following the failed impeachment attempt, Rep. Blake D. Moore (R-Utah) switched his vote, a procedural move signaling acceptance of defeat by Republican leadership. This maneuver allows them to reintroduce the motion at a later date when their majority is fully present.
The close call almost didn’t happen, as Rep. Al Green (D-Tex.) was initially absent from a less significant vote preceding the Mayorkas impeachment. His unexpected arrival, albeit in a wheelchair due to a medical procedure, resulted in a tied vote, sending Republicans scrambling to secure their positions.
Prior to the vote, Republican leaders had worked to persuade wavering members, but signs of trouble emerged early on when delays occurred during the voting process. Despite their efforts, the vote failed, leaving many Republicans frustrated and questioning their leadership’s strategy.
In the aftermath, some Republicans blamed their leadership for not anticipating the Democrats’ tactics, while others emphasized the need for better vote counting and strategy.
Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) stressed the importance of being certain of their votes before taking action to avoid embarrassment, a sentiment echoed by Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.).
Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) viewed Republican complaints as a compliment to the Democrats’ ability to unite and govern effectively.
Rep. Mike Gallagher defended his vote, arguing against setting a new, ambiguous standard for impeachment that could be exploited in the future.
Looking ahead, Rep. Mike Johnson indicated a willingness to bring the impeachment vote back to the floor once enough Republicans were present, prompting speculation on how they would secure the necessary votes.
In the midst of the tension, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), recently hospitalized after a car accident, made a notable appearance, underscoring the significance of the vote for some lawmakers.
As the dust settled, uncertainty lingered over the future of the impeachment motion, highlighting the complexities and challenges of navigating partisan divides in Congress.