Congressional Republicans suffered a series of humiliating setbacks on critical parts of their agenda Tuesday, turning the Capitol into a den of dysfunction that has left several major issues, including U.S. military aid to Ukraine and Israel, in the balance. vagueness in the middle of political quarrels.
As Senate Republicans torpedoed a border deal they had demanded, their House counterparts' attempt to impeach Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the Homeland Security secretary, collapsed due to Republican defections.
Then came a final killing blow. Minutes after Republicans fell one vote short of impeaching Mr. Mayorkas — a punishment the party has promised its base since winning the majority — the House rejected the law they had proposed to send $17.6 billion in military assistance to Israel. The measure was opposed by Democrats who called it a cynical political ploy aimed at undermining efforts to pass a broader foreign military aid bill, including Ukraine. They were joined by a group of far-right Republicans, who opposed the measure because the money was not accompanied by spending cuts.
Taken together, the events that unfolded at the Capitol on Tuesday offered a stark portrait of the disarray in Congress caused by Republicans, who are determined to oppose President Biden at every turn but lack a sufficiently large majority or unity to assert their will.
They sought to derail bipartisan efforts to send more military aid to Ukraine and forge a compromise to secure the border against an influx of migrants, instead proposing to aid only Israel and press for the removal of Mr. Biden’s top immigration official. Tuesday's back-to-back defeats showed that while they are capable of thwarting action on critical issues, they are struggling to do anything about it.
That paralysis left the fate of aid to Ukraine and Israel in jeopardy, closing what was seen as the best remaining path to Capitol Hill for approval of crucial military assistance to U.S. allies. A broad measure that includes both is expected to fail in a Senate test vote Wednesday, raising immediate questions about whether Congress could save the emergency aid program — and if so, how.
And it amounts to a disastrous day for President Mike Johnson, roughly 100 days into his term, highlighting his slim majority and the stodginess of his conference.
In a statement, Mr. Johnson criticized Democrats for opposing aid to Israel, which he said was a “rebuke to our closest ally in the Middle East at a time when it needs it most.” need “. He said Republicans had unveiled an aid bill to Israel without spending cuts, which was “a major concession” given “the seriousness of the situation.”
But he left the Capitol without addressing what appeared to be a calamitous miscalculation in the impeachment vote, which was little more than a political exercise given that the Democratic-led Senate would be almost certain to acquit M .Mayorkas.
Instead of a show of Republican unity to impeach Mr. Biden's top immigration official, the vote turned into an extraordinary scene of chaos in the House that highlighted the disarray of the Republican Party , as leaders sought the support needed to pass the charges against Mr. Mayorkas, but were thwarted by their tiny majority.
They promised to try again on Wednesday.
“House Republicans fully intend to bring back the articles of impeachment against Secretary Mayorkas when we have the votes to pass them,” Raj Shah, Mr. Johnson’s spokesperson, wrote on social media .
Tuesday's failure highlighted Republican divisions on impeachment. Three Republican lawmakers opposed the resolution, warning that it would set a dangerous precedent of impeaching administration officials over policy differences.
In a dramatic denouement, Democrats got Rep. Al Green of Texas, still in a hospital gown after undergoing emergency surgery, to vote against the bill after missing previous votes. That stalled the count, dooming impeachment efforts, which required a simple majority to pass.
Far-right Republicans were furious and expressed bewilderment that their leaders did not seem to know exactly what their vote count would be in a major vote.
“I would have thought they would know,” said Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina. “It’s not that difficult.”
Mr Norman laughed when asked how he could explain the vote to his constituents.
“The conservative base is going to have a real problem with this,” he said. “And they should.”
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who led the charge to impeach Mr. Mayorkas, said she expected House Republican leaders to hold the vote again in the coming days after calling back Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the second-ranking Republican, in Washington. Mr. Scalise was away from the Capitol recovering from treatment for multiple myeloma.
Ms. Greene predicted that the Republicans who defeated the measure would “hear from their constituents.”
The dysfunction is expected to continue Wednesday in the Senate when Republicans are expected to block a bill tying a border compromise to aid to Israel and Ukraine, after most of their members – even those who led the charge for the negotiate – backfired on the package. which House Republicans refused to consider in the face of opposition from former President Donald J. Trump.
“Joe Biden will never implement any new laws and refuses to use the tools he already has today to end this crisis,” said Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican. “I cannot vote for this bill. Americans will look to the next election to end the border crisis.”
Kayla Guo And Luke Broadwater reports contributed.