House Majority Leader Steve Scalise will return to Washington next week after undergoing treatment for blood cancer — giving Republicans a critical boost in the effort to impeach Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Scalise’s office, in a statement, said that the Louisiana Republican is in “complete remission,” “has been medically cleared to resume travel” and “will be returning to Washington next week for votes.”
House Republicans had predicted, after narrowly failing to impeach Mayorkas this week, that they would try again next week. Scalise’s return means a repeat vote could now happen as soon as Tuesday.
Republicans want to move quickly to hold a re-do vote, and for good reason: The special election to replace expelled GOP Rep. George Santos occurs on Tuesday. If Democrats are able to flip the seat it would give them 213 votes, further narrowing the GOP’s majority once Santos’ successor is sworn in.
Scalise’s office announced last month that he would be working remotely until February as he underwent treatment for blood cancer. Combined with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s end-of-the-year retirement from Congress and Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) recovering from a car accident, Republicans’ already narrow majority had become paper thin.
The retirement of Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins plus Rogers’ return gave Republicans more breathing room. But the vote to impeach Mayorkas failed 214-216 after GOP leadership miscalculated Democratic attendance, with Rep. Al Green (D-Texas) leaving the hospital to cast a vote against Mayorkas’ impeachment.
Three GOP Republicans — Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.), Tom McClintock (Calif.) and Mike Gallagher (Wis.) — opposed impeaching Mayorkas, arguing that Republicans’ charges of breach of trust and refusing to comply with the law didn’t meet the constitutional bar for impeachment. With Green returning to vote, that left the tally at a tie. A fourth Republican, conference vice chair Blake Moore (Utah), then flipped his vote from yes to no — a procedural step that helps Republicans bring the impeachment articles back up.
With Scalise’s return, the vote would be 216-215 in favor of impeaching Mayorkas, assuming full attendance and no one besides Moore changing their final vote. Republicans will have to ensure they have no absences during the redo to avoid another potential embarrassing flop on the floor.