The chairman of the House’s biggest Republican caucus says he “stands by” his call for the impeachment of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for allowing hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens to cross the southern border.
Rep. Kevin Hern, R-Okla., first advocated that the House impeach Mayorkas in October, and earlier this week Rep. Pat Fallon, R-Texas, filed articles of impeachment against the homeland security secretary.
“In October of 2022, I think I was the first to formally call for him to be impeached. I stand by that,” Hern, the new chairman of the Republican Study Committee, says on a bonus episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“I actually called first for Mayorkas back in February of 2022 to resign,” the Oklahoma Republican says. “And we had a meeting with him with 40 of our Republican members at the border caucus meeting at the Capitol. To his credit, he showed up for the meeting [but] was very defiant then that there was any problem, when there’d been some 2.5 million people had crossed at that time under his watch.”
“Secretary Mayorkas has been involved with the border since 2005 as the deputy homeland security director, and other immigration processes over the years from California,” Hern says. “And it is amazing to the American people, based on everything that we’ve seen, that he still thinks there’s control of the southern border.”
Also on this bonus episode of “The Daily Signal Podcast,” Hern talks about the 15 ballots to elect a speaker of the House; his goals as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, the largest GOP caucus in the House; and his thoughts on the Pentagon’s lifting its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the armed forces.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Samantha Aschieris: Joining today’s show is Rep. Kevin Hern of Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
Rep. Kevin Hern: Great to be with you.
Aschieris: Now, as you and our listeners know, it took 15 rounds to elect Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. And even in the 12th round of voting, other members of Congress were nominating and voting for you. So first and foremost, what did you first think when your name was nominated, when people were still voting for you, even in those last rounds?
Hern: Yeah. I think, first of all, to have your peers, your colleagues, to nominate you for such an important position is very humbling. Certainly I’ve never been fearful of leadership roles. I’ve been doing that for some 35 years now in various businesses and institutions. So that wasn’t the issue.
The real issue was how we were going to get to a resolve and get a speaker of the House. We’d already surpassed sort of the 100-year mark of in 1923, now we’re pushing toward the 1950 or 1856 measure. I was certainly hoping we weren’t going 133 rounds.
But when you look at what went on, I think this was really good for the American people. You and I just spoke about it. People were watching this play out in real time. I doubt that many Americans had spent this amount of time, probably in their entire life, prior to last week, looking at what the Congress did. And you saw healthy debate, sometime contentious debate. You saw a lot of things brought up.
I was very, again, humbled by the comments that the people who nominated me [made]. But I still, at the end of the day, I thought that Speaker McCarthy, then-Speaker-elect McCarthy, was probably going to be the best person to get us to the place where we needed to be. He had all the levers of information and power to get us there.
And my position with Speaker McCarthy is, I’m with you until it appears you can’t get it done. And I think that’s where the 200 were at in resolve, is, until you indicate you can’t get it done, then we’re all with you.
Aschieris: And just to dive a little bit deeper, you brought this up a little bit, when people were watching last week’s process play out, we saw headlines that it was chaos, that Speaker McCarthy might become weakened because of some concessions. What is your response to that?
Hern: Well, first of all, it wasn’t chaos. It was very orderly. Yes, people got vocal because we’re so typical up here of things being voice voted or they vote not having any pushback because that’s where the House has evolved to. There’s been no debate on the floor since 2016. There have been no amendments. Very little interaction. Typically, when you see the traditional videos of someone speaking on the floor, there’s literally nobody there but you speaking to a camera.
And I thought it was very healthy, personally. I’ve only been in Congress four years. I’m used to in business having healthy debates with people—the people who I worked with, alongside, people who worked for me—to get their thoughts and opinions. Up until last week, this was not a place you could do this.
So I would say it was a win not only for economic security of this country, because a lot of the centrality of what was being talked about was, how do we get a fiscal responsible nation? But I would say equally important in this is that now we’ve empowered every member of Congress, Republican and Democrat, by the way, to be able to speak on the floor, to offer amendments. Yes, and to even vacate the chair if necessary.
But I got to tell you, these aren’t, like, new rules. These are rules that were in place some six, eight, 10 years ago. And the most egregious change was under Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi. She basically insulated herself from being able to be vacated from the chair, which is why we got some $10 trillion in spending out of the Democrat-led Congress over the last four years.
Aschieris: Something else I wanted to talk about was the fact that you recently became the chairman of the Republican Study Committee. Can you tell us a little bit more about this committee and some of your goals for it moving forward?
Hern: Sure. The Republican Study Committee’s been around 50 years in April, was started by then a staffer named Ed Feulner, who was actually one of the founding members of The Heritage Foundation, which is a very important connection between the two, synergies between the two groups, both inside and outside of Congress.
I describe it as the conservative conscience of the Republican Conference. It’s about putting forth positions on bills, positions on policy that are conservative in nature. In fact, I would go as far as to say, I don’t even like to say conservative in nature, I like to say they’re American in nature. They’re about limited government. They’re about having less intrusion into your life. It’s about being responsible for the taxpayer dollars that are sent to Washington, D.C., to run this great nation.
And it’s an honor to be chair of that. It’s a two-year term. You don’t get to run for reelection. Every chair that’s been in existence in the last 50 years has got to do it for two years and then move on.
The members, we represent about 80% of the entire conference. So there are 222 members of the Republican Conference. We have about 170 members in the RSC, from the most conservative Freedom Caucus members to the most moderate groups in the Republican Conference or RSC. We work on policy, not politics.
Aschieris: Now, I also wanted to dive into something that actually was announced on Tuesday. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released this memo rescinding the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of the armed forces. I saw you put out a tweet on this, so I wanted to get your thoughts on this memo and this announcement.
Hern: So, it’s sort of always mixed emotions. We want our military men and women to be war fighter-ready, if you will, being able to be deployed anywhere in the world. But there never was this consistent message with the COVID-19 vaccination. Didn’t mean as a civilian you couldn’t take it if you didn’t want to. I mean, we politicized this. But there was never an affirmation that this was going to prevent you from getting COVID-19, take yellow fever vaccinations to prevent you from getting yellow fever and it actually works.
And so, as this thing progressed, meaning the evolution of the COVID-19 shot and the people that were vaccinated were getting it too, and they were actually kicking people out of the military for what it was doing, the harm. Now we’re learning post that time, birth defects. We’re learning with pregnancies that are having challenges. We’re learning with people that continue to die after getting the shot.
This was the right thing to do. The sad thing is that it took a mandate from Congress through the [National Defense Authorization Act] to make this actually happen. So it really took a legislative action to make this happen. And as a leader of the largest organization in the country, meaning the military, Secretary Austin should have done a better job.
Aschieris: Now let’s talk a little bit about investigations. Who are you hoping that the GOP investigates and are you thinking of spearheading any investigations?
Hern: RSC won’t be spearheading any investigations. It’s not necessarily in our purview. The investigations are going on through our two primary accountability committees, which are Judiciary and Oversight, that’s where that’s going to be.
And then we have subcommittees on many of the certainly larger committees of jurisdiction like Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce that have their own oversight subcommittees. Education and Labor, that will be investigating either the inappropriate use or the misuse or abuse of taxpayer dollars to fund things like wokeism or redirecting monies out of the fossil fuel industry and illegally to other industries just because the secretary of commerce or some others may have done that, secretary of state, redirect from around the world.
What we’re going to be looking at is accountability to the spending process. So staying strictly in that policy world.
I think it’s important that we don’t get bogged down as a total conference and obstructing Congressman [Jim] Jordan and Congressman [James] Comer’s work as they methodically walk through the subpoena process and the subpoena power they have as chairs to get to these things such as why now we’re learning that on Nov. 2, six days before the election, that then-Vice President [Joe] Biden had taken classified documents and they’ve been sitting around his private office for six years.
And we know that [the Justice Department] knew this six days before the election and chose not to release this. Yet they were perfectly willing to attack Mar-a-Lago in an election window for President [Donald] Trump. Seems a little bit like there’s some posturing there that’s interfering with the proper election in the future of the presidency in ’24.
When you look at the Hunter Biden laptop that the DOJ has lost and can’t find, any other agency out there, local police agency, state police agency, would be completely investigated how they lost evidence so critical to a relationship with two of the most talked about nations in the world today, China and Ukraine, as it related to Hunter Biden and his involvement with the president and sitting in the White House today.
These are things that the American people need to understand. This is not about oversight necessarily, it’s about being accountable. And we’ve got to get credibility and accountability back in the Department of Justice to the FBI, it’s paramount in us being a safe nation as we move forward.
Aschieris: I want to talk a little bit more about these classified documents that were found at the Penn Biden Center. CNN is reporting that 10 classified documents, including U.S. intelligence memos and briefing materials that cover topics including Ukraine, Iran, and the United Kingdom, were found. Now, President Biden did weigh in on this on Tuesday and we have some audio that we’re going to play now per ABC News.
President Joe Biden: People know I take documents of classified information seriously. When my lawyers were clearing out my office at the University of Pennsylvania, they set up an office for me, a secure office in the Capitol, when the four years after being vice president I was a professor at Penn. They found some documents in a box, in a locked cabinet, or at least a closet. And as soon as they did, they realized there were several classified documents in that box and they did what they should have done. They immediately called the [National] Archives. Immediately called the Archives, turned them over to the Archives.
And I was briefed about this discovery and surprised to learn that there were any government records that were taken there to that office. But I don’t know what’s in the documents. My lawyers have not suggested I ask what documents they were. I’ve turned over the boxes. They’ve turned over the boxes to the Archives and we’re cooperating fully, cooperating fully with the review and which I hope will be finished soon and there’ll be more detail at that time.
Aschieris: So Congressman, what are your thoughts on the president’s comments?
Hern: Well, I think it shows how easy it is to take classified documents out of a facility, namely the White House, and other briefings.
Clearly our commander in chief is privy to a lot of activity, more so than probably anyone else around the world. Activities from State Department, obviously Department of Defense, and certainly Department of Energy. And I think it’s important that we get to the bottom of how easy it is for the chain of custody of these classified documents. And that in and of itself and this whole investigative process we’re doing right now with Congressman Comer and Congressman Jordan’s committees needs to be investigated and we need to make some fundamental changes in how that works.
Aschieris: We saw earlier this week as well, Texas Rep. Pat Fallon filing articles of impeachment against Homeland Security Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas. Do you think we will see more impeachments coming from the GOP?
Hern: Well, I think we need to be focused. I actually called first for Mayorkas back in February 2022 to resign. And we had a meeting with him with 40 of our Republican members at the border caucus meeting at the Capitol. To his credit, he showed up for the meeting, was very defiant then that there was any problem when there’d been some 2.5 million people had crossed at that time under his watch.
Secretary Mayorkas has been involved with the border since 2005 as the deputy homeland security director and other immigration processes over the years from California. And it is amazing to the American people, based on everything that we’ve seen, that he still thinks there’s control of the southern border.
In October 2022, I think I was the first to formally call for him to be impeached. I stand by that. I haven’t seen Congressman Fallon’s articles, but if a person, he or she is refusing to do their job that they’re constitutionally swore their oath to do, then they need to be removed. And if the president of the United States, from whom Secretary Mayorkas works for, is not going to do his constitutional duty in making sure he has the right Cabinet members in the right position, then it falls upon the Congress to do their job, which is set up the articles of impeachment.
I think it sends a message to America that we’re not going to allow the southern border to continue to stay open. Republicans are in charge. We’re going to move forward with securing the southern border.
Aschieris: Congressman, just before we let you go, what are some of the main issues aside from investigations and impeachments that the Republican Party will be focused on this Congress?
Hern: Yeah, I think two of the most important issues, again, I think the critical central focal point of everything that was talked about last week was fiscal responsibility in empowering Congress.
If you look at the fiscal responsibility standpoint, it’s really about a balanced budget, which the RSC, Republican Study Committee, has done for years now. I chaired that committee in that budget process for the last two years, so I’m intricately familiar with what the budget looks like and what it should look like. So that’s important, to get that on the floor. American people need to see us be responsible with their taxpayer dollars.
The second faction of that is that we need to fund the government in regular order. That’s D.C. speak for, let’s do our jobs. It’s the core job that we’re supposed to do, which is fund the government appropriately and being responsible in a balanced way. And then putting the 12 spending bills out there with Republican support and then sending them to Senate and have the Senate do their job.
The whole issue with empowering the congressional members, we’ll see that play out over the next two years under Speaker McCarthy’s watch. I believe it will happen. The balanced budget and the appropriation bills, we have to get those done between now and the 1st of June and get those sent over to the Senate.
It is my hope the RSC will be working steadily and steadfast in making that happen from our perspective and pushing on the leadership to make it happen. And it’s incumbent upon the other 40 or 50 members outside of RSC to help us get there. And so it is exciting. It should be exciting for the American people because at the end of the day, they were the real winners last week.
Aschieris: Well, Congressman, thank you so much for joining our show today. I really appreciate it and love to have you back on in the future. Thanks so much.
Hern: Sounds great. Thanks for having me.
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