Mike Johnson expected to address border in House speech as Schumer condemns Mayorkas impeachment effort as ‘absurd’ – live

Republican speaker Johnson to address border in House floor speech

Republican Mike Johnson is set to give his first speech on the floor of the House since becoming speaker, where he is expected to discuss immigration policy.

Johnson has criticized the Senate’s bipartisan negotiations on the border, the success of which Republicans have linked to supporting another round of aid for Ukraine’s military.

We’ll let you know what Johnson has to say.

Key events

Chuck Schumer also said negotiations on immigration policy changes “have not concluded”, and warned that “many on the hard right are mightily trying to sink the bipartisan work happening here in the Senate”.

A bipartisan group of senators has for weeks been bargaining over changes to border policy, which Republicans have demanded in exchange for supporting Joe Biden’s request for military assistance to Israel and Ukraine. Those negotiations have not yet resulted in a deal, but rightwing Republicans, most worryingly House speaker Mike Johnson, have attacked them.

In his comments on the Senate floor, Schumer warned that the collapse of talks would imperil two of America’s allies:

For months, we have been true to our word, working with Republicans on border security, listening to their proposals, and coming to agreement on a vast range of issues.

We have not concluded negotiations, so we will keep going to get this done.

Democrats have always been ready and willing to have a debate on the border. We want to get this done, we have continued to work to get this done, and we remain committed – we remain committed – to bipartisanship. Both sides will have to give.

It is unfortunate, but frankly not surprising, that many on the hard right are mightily trying to sink the bipartisan work happening here in the Senate. But in the Senate, our responsibility is clear: we need to put the needs of our country above the interests of party politics.

Because the security of our southern border is on the line.

The security of Israel is on the line.

The health and safety of innocent Gaza civilians is on the line.

The stability of the Indo Pacific region is on the line.

And finally – as every Senator on both sides knows – the survival of Ukraine is on the line.

Senate Democratic leader criticizes Mayorkas impeachment following committee vote

The Senate’s Democratic leader Chuck Schumer just offered a preview of the reception the articles of impeachment against homeland security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will receive, should they arrive in his chamber.

In remarks on the Senate floor, the New York lawmaker called the effort “absurd”, “unserious” and a “sham”:

House Republicans have not shown that he has violated the constitution. House Republicans have failed to present any evidence of anything resembling an impeachable offense.

Instead, what House Republicans are doing by advancing this sham impeachment effort is denigrating our constitution, all for the sake of appeasing one person and one person only: Donald Trump.

And let this be clear: this unserious spectacle by House Republicans does nothing – nothing – to secure our border.

The House homeland security committee approved the articles of impeachment earlier this morning, and they are expected to be put to a floor vote next week. If they pass, the Senate is expected to hold a trial, but would need the support of two-thirds of its lawmakers to convict Mayorkas. Democrats hold the chamber’s majority, and are unlikely to support the effort.

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Here’s more from the Guardian’s Gloria Oladipo and Lauren Gambino on Cori Bush’s announcement yesterday that she was under federal investigation:

The congresswoman Cori Bush has confirmed that the US Department of Justice is investigating whether the Missouri Democrat misused campaign funds for security services, an accusation she denied as “simply false”.

In a statement, Bush said her campaign was “fully cooperating” with the investigation and said she had always “complied with all applicable laws and House rules”.

“I hold myself, my campaign, and my position to the highest levels of integrity. I also believe in transparency, which is why I can confirm that the Department of Justice is reviewing my campaign’s spending on security services,” said Bush, part of a progressive group of Democratic women known as “the Squad”.

She added that the allegations were rooted in “baseless complaints” raised by rightwing organizations who have long made her a target.

In a lengthy statement, Bush, a nurse and Black Lives Matter activist turned lawmaker who represents the St Louis area, said she has endured threats to her “physical safety and life” since before she took office in 2021.

Bush said that as a rank-and-file member of Congress she is not entitled to receive security protection by the House and has instead used campaign funds to pay for security services.

“I have not used any federal tax dollars for personal security services,” she said. “Any reporting that I have used federal funds for personal security is simply false.”

Bush, Omar demand apology after ‘racist’ comments from rightwing lawmaker

Cori Bush, a Black Democratic congresswoman from Missouri who is a member of “the Squad” of progressive lawmakers, yesterday acknowledged she was under justice department investigation over allegations of misusing taxpayer funds. She denied any wrongdoing, but that wasn’t enough for rightwing lawmaker Troy Nehls, who attacked the congresswoman for allegedly funneling money intended for her security to her husband.

Here’s what he said, according to CNN:

GOP Rep. Troy Nehls slammed Dem Rep. Cori Bush today for using campaign funds to pay her husband for security services, and also said Bush — a black member of the Squad who has faced death threats – is “loud” and should “tone it down” if she doesn’t want to face threats.

— Melanie Zanona (@MZanona) January 31, 2024

Full quote:

“She doesn’t even support the police. But the idea to pay her thug money to try to help protect her this and that, for what?” Nehls said. “Maybe if she wouldn’t be so loud all the time, maybe she wouldn’t be getting threats.”

— Melanie Zanona (@MZanona) January 31, 2024

Bush demanded an apology from the Texas Republican for calling her husband a “thug”, and characterizing her as “loud”:

.@RepTroyNehls just called my husband, a Black man and army veteran, a thug. And I’m the loud Black woman who needs to be silent in order to be safe from violence, or else?

This is the kind of rhetoric that endangers Black lives. He must apologize.

— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) January 31, 2024

Fellow Squad member Ilhan Omar went further, describing Nehls’s remarks as “racist”:

The loud black woman trope is racist and tired. The Congressman should apologize and all members of Congress should condemn him. No one in our government deserves to be threatened regardless how loud they advocate for their positions and blaming the victim of harassment and…

— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) January 31, 2024

Nehls appears in no mood to answer either lawmaker’s demand. He replied to Bush on X today, saying, “You should apologize to every law enforcement officer across the nation. I’m waiting.”

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Speaking of conspiracy theories, the Guardian’s Ramon Antonio Vargas reports that a progressive House Democrat once published poems and made other statements questioning the facts of the September 11 attack on his personal blog:

Progressive US congressman Jamaal Bowman is seeking to distance himself from conspiracy theories about the deadly September 11 terrorist attacks which he published on a personal blog that he ran before his career in elected office.

The New York representative was linked to the blog in question by the Daily Beast on Monday as he faces a substantial primary challenge from a fellow Democrat over his criticism of Israeli military strikes in Gaza in response to Hamas’s 7 October 2023 attack.

Bowman was also grappling with the Daily Beast’s reporting after his 2023 fine and misdemeanor guilty plea for apparently pulling a fire alarm at the US Capitol shortly before the US House was supposed to vote on a government funding bill. Though he maintained that the fire alarm pull was accidental, the House censured Bowman, who was accused of trying to delay the funding bill vote.

“I don’t believe anything that these cranks have said, and my life’s work has proved that,” said a statement that Bowman distributed to media outlets about the far-right conspiracy theories once featured on a blog.

Bowman’s statement alluded to a resolution which condemned the racist white replacement theory that drove a gunman to murder 11 Black people in Buffalo in 2022 and said: “My life’s work has proved that … I’ve called out the endless bullshit of the far right.”

There’s no escaping politics these days, not even if you’re Taylor Swift, the Guardian’s Adam Gabbatt reports:

Taylor Swift is a “Pentagon asset”, an “election interference psyop” who, with unnamed left-leaning forces, has conspired to “rig” the Super Bowl and then endorse Joe Biden in the presidential election.

That’s according to a raft of influential rightwing figures, who have begun to spread a conspiracy theory that Swift, a pop star, is part of a nefarious plot ahead of November’s presidential election.

Swift has found herself at the center of the rightwing commentariat’s attention in recent weeks after intense media focus on her relationship with Travis Kelce, a star tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs football team.

She has been in the crowd as the Chiefs have progressed through the NFL playoffs: on Sunday, the team won the AFC Championship game, and will play in the Super Bowl on 11 February. The attention their romance has received has led to a number conspiracy theories.

“I think – and I’ve said this, I’ve taken a lot of crap for this online – I think they’re using Taylor Swift right now,” Jack Posobiec, an influential rightwing conspiracy theorist, said in a video posted on Truth Social on Monday.

“They’re gearing up for an operation to use Taylor Swift in the election against everything: against Trump, for Biden, they’re gonna get her and all you know they call them the Swifties they’re going to turn those into voters, you watch.”

For an idea of the vibe during the House homeland security committee’s lengthy hearing into impeaching Alejandro Mayorkas, here’s video of one Democrat accusing Republicans of kowtowing to “the orange Jesus” with their charges.

It was New Jersey’s Rob Menendez who deployed that figure of speech – “the orange Jesus” being, of course, Donald Trump:

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Top House Democrat says Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene behind Mayorkas impeachment

The House minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, blasted the impeachment of Alejandro Mayorkas in an interview with MSNBC this morning, saying the charges amounted to a “stunt” done at the behest of the party’s right wing.

“House Republicans are engaged in another partisan political stunt. They apparently have been ordered to do so by Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene because these are the individuals who are basically running the House Republican Conference, which is why we’ve seen nothing from this do-nothing Republican Congress but chaos, dysfunction and extremism,” Jeffries said.

“We should be focused on issues related to the economy, inflation, national security, public safety, fixing the border. There are many challenges that we are ready, willing and able to confront with our Republican colleagues in a bipartisan way, but they’ve basically spent this Congress engaging in reckless political activity designed to distract from their failed agenda.”

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The House homeland security committee convened at 10am yesterday, but it took them until 1am this morning to finally approve the articles of impeachment against Alejandro Mayorkas, after hours of debate on various amendments offered by both parties. Here’s a recap the marathon hearing, and what happens next:

House Republicans voted along party lines after midnight on Wednesday to move toward impeaching the homeland security secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, for a “willful and systematic” refusal to enforce immigration laws as border security becomes a top 2024 election issue.

In a charge against a cabinet official unseen in nearly 150 years, the homeland security committee debated all day on Tuesday and well into the night before recommending two articles of impeachment against Mayorkas to the full House.

The committee Republicans voted in favor, while the Democrats unified against, 18-15.

The partisan showdown reflected the Republicans’ efforts to make the Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s hard-line deportation approach to immigration their own.

That approach was mirrored on a second front on Tuesday, as Republicans also lambasted the border deal recently brokered between the Joe Biden White House and a bipartisan group of senators, Democrats and Republicans alike.

Mayorkas, in a letter sent to the Republican chair of the House committee on homeland security before the hearing began, dismissed the impeachment process against him as “politically motivated”.

As effort against Mayorkas moves ahead, White House asks, “Is there anyone House Republicans won’t impeach?”

Good morning, US politics blog readers. In the wee hours of this morning, the Republican-controlled House homeland security committee approved the charges against Alejandro Mayorkas by a party line vote and sent them for consideration by the full chamber. House speaker Mike Johnson is expected to hold a vote on impeaching the homeland security chief at some point next week, though with a margin of just one seat (!) it’s going to be interesting to see if any GOP lawmakers defect from the effort. Even the charges are approved, the impeachment is headed for a trial in the Senate that will likely prove futile. Democrats control the chamber, and convicting Mayorkas of the “high crimes and misdemeanors” he is accused of requires a two-thirds majority, which is likely unobtainable.

The White House is nonetheless peeved by the committee’s action, describing it as petty and noting that Republicans have talked about impeaching Joe Biden and various officials ever since he took office. “Is there anyone House Republicans won’t impeach?” read an email from the White House press team this morning. We’ll be keeping an eye out for the latest on the impeachment, and the broader debate over immigration policy playing out in Congress.

Here’s what else is happening today:

  • Johnson is expected to give his first speech on the House floor since becoming speaker at 12pm ET, which will concern immigration.

  • Nathan Wade, the Georgia prosecutor who is in an alleged romantic relationship with Fani Willis, the district attorney who indicted Donald Trump and 18 others for trying to meddle in the state’s 2020 election, will not have to testify today in a divorce case after reaching an agreement with his estranged wife. Defense attorneys have argued Willis and Wade’s relationship represents a conflict of interest, potentially upending the election subversion case.

  • White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre will take reporters’ questions at 1pm.

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