Democratic Homeland Security members request additional DHS nominee testimony
© Greg Nash

Democrats on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee are calling on committee leadership to ask President Trump's nominee for secretary of Homeland Security to return to the committee for additional testimony.

They have made their request over concerns that White House staff interfered in the Department of Homeland Security's decision to extend a temporary resettlement program for immigrants.

A group of committee members led by Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanDems push back on using federal funds to arm teachers House panel advances DHS cyber vulnerabilities bills Chris Pappas wins Democratic House primary in New Hampshire MORE (D-N.H.) wrote a letter to committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSessions calls on former colleagues to send drone legislation to Trump's desk Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow MORE (R-Wis.) and ranking member Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillOvernight Health Care: Bill banning 'gag clauses' on drugs heads to Trump's desk | Romney opposes Utah Medicaid expansion | GOP candidate under fire over ad on pre-existing conditions GOP Senate candidate says he supports pre-existing conditions while backing lawsuit to end them Disclosures suggest rebates and insurers responsible for rising out-of-pocket drug costs MORE (D-Mo.) asking to delay a confirmation hearing on the administration's nominee, Kirstjen Nielsen, the current White House deputy chief of staff, until they can hear more testimony.

John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, the White House chief of staff Trump's first DHS chief, this week reportedly called acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke to urge her to cancel the immigration status of nearly 60,000 Hondurans.

Duke viewed the call by Kelly as a politically motivated overstep into DHS decisions.

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A White House official said that Kelly argued that the extension of the program does not fit the administration's long-term goals on immigration and that the temporary program should not be a permanent means of residency for the refugees. 

“These developments raise important new questions not only about the political interference of the White House in a key national security matter, but also about the qualifications and appropriateness of Ms. Nielsen’s nomination to be the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,” the senators wrote in the letter.

Nielsen, the senators stated, must be able to "maintain independence" from Kelly, who is currently her superior in the White House, and must account for "any role she may have played in this potential act of political interference."

The members said that Nielsen's confirmation hearing, to take place as early as Nov. 13, does not give them enough time to get answers to their questions on her impartiality, and they requested Nielsen come before the committee to again testify under oath on the matter.