(VitalNews.org) – Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has garnered bipartisan ire as he faces impeachment threats from both sides of the aisle. Democratic Rep. Juan Vargas of California said on March 17 he “may vote to impeach” Mayorkas for what he, Vargas, says was the secretary’s improper awarding of a government contract to a private firm.
The DHS, according to Vargas, gave a “no bid” contract to a firm it engaged to build a wall at the border of San Diego and the Mexican town of Tijuana. This means the contract was given directly to a private company without the government setting companies to compete against each other to get taxpayers the best possible price.
Government rules allow no-bid contracts only in cases with “unusual or compelling urgency.” In a letter to Mayorkas, Vargas said he believed DHS used that loophole improperly in order to avoid oversight by Congress. Vargas was quick to distinguish his reason for wanting to impeach Mayorkas from the reasons his GOP colleagues want to.
For their part, Republicans are unhappy with Mayorkas for what they see as his agency’s failure to deal with the crisis of overflowing levels of illegal immigration at the US border. In contrast to Vargas, the GOP thinks building border walls is an urgent priority.
The agency is clearly aware that they are in the legal crosshairs from both sides. In late January, DHS signed a $1.5 million contract with New York lawyers Debevoise and Plimpton in anticipation of being sued. Government documentation shows the contract runs through early 2025 and may balloon to $3 million. The cost of defending the DHS will, of course, accrue to American taxpayers.
If defense services become necessary, Debevoise and Plimpton partner David O’Neil will lead Mayorkas’ defense team. O’Neil has experience in the area, having worked for House Democrats in their past impeachments against former President Donald Trump.
Mayorkas has stated that he will not be pushed out of his job by opponents.
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