"What the hell are they thinking?": Furious Republicans erupt over "embarrassing" defeat

Republicans suffered stunning dual losses on Tuesday after key defections

By Gabriella Ferrigine

News Fellow

Published February 7, 2024 10:37AM (EST)

U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) speaks as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) listen during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol May 11, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) speaks as Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) listen during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol May 11, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Emotions ran high among House Republicans on Tuesday following a double defeat on Homeland Security Secretay Alejandro Mayorkas' impeachment and an aid package for Israel.

The vote on Mayorkas ended in a 215-215 tie after three members of the House GOP — Reps. Ken Buck, Colo., Mike Gallagher, Wisc., and Tom McClintock, Calif. — voted against it.

The hotly debated proposed impeachment was the result of House GOP efforts to oust Mayorkas for perceived failure to enforce U.S. immigration policies at the border, violating public trust, and “willful and systemic refusal to comply with the law," per the Washington Post. Multiple hearings were held to discuss the impeachment proceedings, with many Democratic lawmakers claiming that they were baseless and politically motivated, also highlighting previous and ethically questionable border proposals made by former president Donald Trump, including building alligator moats along the border.

Axios described the recent Republican losses as part of an ongoing pattern in which the party fails to advance legislation due to their largely polarized conference. 

"I knew that we would have … the ability to block the Democrat agenda," Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., told Axios. "We've exceeded my wildest expectations on blocking, because we not only block the Democrat agenda, we block the Republican agenda. We don't have command of the field."

Other House GOP members singled out their three colleagues for voting with Democrats — in recent times, the notion of bipartisan agreement has been treated as increasingly taboo by some GOP lawmakers, as seen with their heavy opposition to bipartisan-border related legislation only after Trump spoke out against it.

Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, told Axios that that vote on Mayorkas was "shameful," adding, "I mean, what the hell are they thinking? We should have gotten this done."

Rep. Cory Mills, R-Fla., shared his frustration, saying "There's a plethora of reasoning and justification and evidence ... I just don't understand why we can't do the one thing the American people want." 

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"It's very frustrating as a freshman to realize that we don't have the cohesiveness and the fortitude to come together to vote what's right for America," said Rep. Mark Alford, R-Mo.

Conservative Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, Ga., well-known for unabashedly speaking her mind, said she didn't have anything to say to Buck, Gallagher, and McClintock.

"I think they'll hear from their constituents," Greene said.

Still, others held out hope that Mayorkas will ultimately be impeached. 

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Mo., seemed to suggest that the absence of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., who is recovering from cancer treatment, was the deciding factor in the tie vote.

"If Scalise comes in tomorrow then we've got the votes," Burlison said. "So I think it just delays it." 


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Speaking about the Israel bill, which Axios referred to as "a GOP chess move against President Biden," Rep. Derrick Van Orden, R-Wisc., told Axios that "'Frustrating' is not the right word … it's maddening."

Rep. Max Miller, R-Ohio, called the Israel vote "embarrassing," claiming that "They're trying to save face and do the right thing that should have been done to begin with … No one has to wonder how we got here, the speaker did it."

As Axios observed, the package of aid for Israel — the final vote for which was 250-180 — served as a "House GOP counter-measure" in the Senate's attempts to pass a bill that would allocate funds toward Israel, Ukraine, Taiwan, and border security. 


By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a news fellow at Salon. She began writing at a young age, inspired by the many books she read as well as the world around her. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Currently, Gabriella is pursuing an M.A. in Magazine Journalism at NYU. Prior to working at Salon, she was a staff writer at NowThis News.

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Aggregate Alejandro Mayorkas Mike Johnson Politics