Coburn slams Dems for move to confirm DHS official under probe

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Thursday criticized Senate Democrats for moving to confirm a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official who is currently under investigation for abusing his current position. The Senate was preparing to vote on Alejandro Mayorkas's nomination early Friday morning.

Coburn said he reviewed the history of the Senate and said there is no precedent for confirming anyone under investigation in any way.

ADVERTISEMENT
"It's never been done before," he said on the Senate floor. "We're doing a disservice both to this nominee and to the department that he will fill."

Mayorkas is currently the director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. He's under investigation by the DHS Office of the Inspector General for improperly getting investment visas for GreenTech Automotive.

Coburn cited several examples in which past administrations nominated people who were under any type of investigation. In each case, the Senate decided not to advance the nominee until the investigation was cleared up.

Coburn stressed that the Mayorkas nomination should simply be delayed until the investigation is resolved. But he accused Democrats of ramming Mayorkas through and blamed the recent use of the nuclear option in the Senate as something that is preventing Republicans from stalling it.

"The Senate's going to cast this vote without … full knowledge of advice and consent on his fitness for his position, and we can do nothing to stop that; we realize that," Coburn said.

Coburn said he doubts the investigation would reveal any criminal findings against Mayorkas but said the allegations against the nominee are potentially damning, and the Senate should wait to see the conclusion of the investigation.

Among other things, there are allegations that Mayorkas tried to obstruct the investigation and intimidate employees.

"They raise questions about his allegiance to DHS's core mission to prevent terrorism and enhance security," Coburn said of these charges.

Coburn has complained about the Democratic effort to push the nomination through the Senate for several weeks now. However, the Senate seems likely to approve Mayorkas in a vote scheduled for 4:15 a.m. Friday.

Senate Republicans are expected to start returning home after tonight's late vote on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). At least one Republican will be on the floor if needed, but if most GOP senators leave, that would force Senate Democrats to approve the Mayorkas nomination, a vote that could look something like 55-1.

At around midnight, the Senate will vote to end debate on the Mayorkas nomination, a vote the GOP might also skip, although it will be held immediately after the NDAA vote.

Regardless of how many Republicans are around, they are powerless to stop votes to end debate or confirm any nomination as long as all but a few Democrats support the nomination.

More in Senate

Dem senator backs Planned Parenthood probe

Read more »