The US House of Representatives stalled a vote to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Monday, after a group of Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the effort.
Lawmakers voted 209-201 to refer the matter to the Homeland Security Committee, effectively blocking it.
Among the small group of Republicans rebels was ex-interim Speaker Patrick McHenry.
The vote was forced by hardline Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene.
She argued that Mr Mayorkas had violated his duties as secretary by failing to tackle a record number of migrants crossing the southern border.
Some Republicans have long been calling to impeach Mr Mayorkas, blaming him for failing to secure the US-Mexico border.
In a floor speech on Monday before the vote, Ms Greene claimed there had been record-high numbers of illegal border crossings and drug trafficking because of Mr Mayorkas’ “open border policies”.
She filed a privileged resolution last week to impeach Mr Mayorkas, forcing Republicans to hold a vote on the floor by Tuesday.
Her resolution was supported by several senior Republicans, including House Republican whip Tom Emmer.
“A vote to impeach Mayorkas is a vote to get our border under control. I’ll be voting to impeach,” Mr Emmer said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Sunday.
But eight Republican lawmakers joined Democrats in voting to send the resolution to the Homeland Security Committee.
The committee is already investigating Mr Mayorkas over his handling of the southern border. That committee as well as several other House committees have held hearings about the Biden administration’s border security policies.
The number of people apprehended at the US-Mexico border exceeded 2 million both in the 2022 and the 2023 fiscal years.
In a statement to US media after the vote, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security called the impeachment resolution a “baseless attack” that was “completely without merit and a harmful distraction from our critical national security priorities”.
Ms Greene, meanwhile, told reporters she was “outraged” by the failure of the vote.
The last time the US House voted to impeach a cabinet member was in 1876.
House Republicans have also been leading an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden over his family’s finances and business dealings involving his son Hunter Biden.