A small band of Republicans joined with all House Democrats on Monday to block a snap vote to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, turning back an attempt to oust him before a G.O.P.-led committee has completed its investigation into his agency’s handling of the southwest border.
The impeachment vote was forced by Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a hard-right Republican from Georgia. But it was shot down by a vote of 209 to 201.
Eight Republicans, including veteran lawmakers who want to see an impeachment investigation follow traditional steps, voted with Democrats to block the vote and send the matter to the Homeland Security Committee. An impeachment inquiry is already underway there.
“Secretary Mayorkas continues to be laser-focused on the safety and security of our nation,” said Mia Ehrenberg, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security. “This baseless attack is completely without merit and a harmful distraction from our critical national security priorities.”
In pushing to impeach Mr. Mayorkas, Ms. Greene did not accuse him of personally committing any crimes. But she blamed him for the state of the border, where thousands of migrants are arrested daily.
“Our border is wide open and Americans are dying everyday,” Ms. Greene wrote on the social media site X before the vote. “It’s time for Congress to hold the Biden administration accountable.”
Republicans have pushed for months to make Mr. Mayorkas the first cabinet official to be impeached since William W. Belknap, the secretary of war, in 1876. But any impeachment effort that passes the House is sure to meet with defeat in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Some mainstream Republicans have long expressed reservations about impeaching Mr. Mayorkas over what amounts to policy differences without a finding of actual wrongdoing. The House Homeland Security Committee, led by Representative Mark E. Green, Republican of Tennessee, has been investigating Mr. Mayorkas and his agency for months.
A committee spokesman said on Monday that the panel was in the “final phase of our five-phase investigation of Secretary Mayorkas, and we are continuing to compile compelling evidence of his role in this intentional and unprecedented border crisis.”
The spokesman said Mr. Green was “supportive of whatever course of action Congress can employ to hold the secretary accountable.”
Ms. Greene’s effort had picked up some powerful supporters, including Representative Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the No. 3 Republican.
“As I’ve said before, I support impeaching Secretary Mayorkas,” Mr. Emmer wrote on X. “On his watch, Americans have been victimized while criminal cartels, traffickers, and terrorists have been empowered. A vote to impeach Mayorkas is a vote to get our border under control. I’ll be voting to impeach.”
Representative Nick LaLota, a New York Republican who hails from a district won by President Biden, also endorsed impeachment before the vote.
“I’ve seen Navy ship captains held accountable and fired for less than what Mayorkas has done,” Mr. LaLota said. “He’s allowed nearly 10 million people to illegally come to this country and 200,000 Americans to die from fentanyl. He should be held accountable.”
In some ways, the effort to impeach Mr. Mayorkas followed a familiar pattern for House Republicans, many of whom have been pressing for months to impeach Mr. Biden.
Staring down a deadline for funding the government in September, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced an impeachment investigation into Mr. Biden, explicitly trying to leverage the process to persuade hard-right members of Congress to support his efforts to avoid a shutdown.
In June, the G.O.P.-led House quashed a move by Representative Lauren Boebert, Republican of Colorado, to quickly impeach Mr. Biden by referring her motion to a committee for further investigation. Like Ms. Greene in her move against Mr. Mayorkas, Ms. Boebert tried to impeach Mr. Biden by charging that his immigration policies constituted high crimes and misdemeanors.
“With our nation teetering mere days from another total government shutdown, we are spending precious time on a Marjorie Taylor Greene impeachment motion. Enough said,” said Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey. “Secretary Mayorkas is an honorable man who has dedicated years to public service. This matter is so baseless, so pointless, so free of fact or reason, I won’t even bother addressing its lack of merits.”
Immigration advocates and Democratic groups also condemned the impeachment effort as political grandstanding.
“Once again, extremist House Republicans are resorting to cheap political theater in order to distract the American public from their own dysfunction,” said Lia Parada, the chief advocacy officer for the Immigration Hub. “Representative Greene’s resolution to oust Secretary Mayorkas, the fourth attempt from G.O.P. lawmakers this year, recycles stale right-wing theories that have no factual basis but please a fringe base nonetheless.”