Senate

Senate GOP slow walking Biden's pick to lead DHS

Senate Republicans are dragging out the Senate's consideration of President Biden's pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) filed cloture on Alejandro Mayorkas's nomination on Wednesday due to GOP opposition, a procedural step that will eat up days of time. 

It is the first time Republicans have made Democrats go through the extra hurdles to confirm a nominee since they took over the chamber's majority last week. 

"There's a number of problems with that nomination that we need to talk about," said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), an adviser to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Without a deal to speed things up, the earliest that the Senate could take an initial vote on Mayorkas is Friday, where he'll need a simple majority to advance. Even after that, his nomination could face up to 30 hours of additional debate.  

Biden has gotten four Cabinet picks confirmed by the Senate so far: Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. 

Each of the four were able to skip over procedural hurdles and proceed directly to a straight up or down vote and were confirmed with broad bipartisan support. 

But Mayorkas has received pushback from several GOP senators. 

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted this week to advance Biden's pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security. 

GOP Sens. Ron Johnson (Wis.), James Lankford (Okla.), Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Rick Scott (Fla.) voted against him in committee. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wasn't present, but did vote "no" by proxy. 

Hawley previously warned that he would slow down the Senate's confirmation of Mayorkas.

"I cannot consent to skip the standard vetting process and fast-track this nomination when so many questions remain unanswered," Hawley said in a statement earlier this month. 

Democrats are hoping to confirm Mayorkas this week. 

Schumer said on Wednesday that one GOP senator was holding up the nomination. 

"The Senate must continue the process of confirming President Biden's Cabinet by installing Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as secretary of Homeland Security. ... Unfortunately, because of the objections of one member, the Senate has not been allowed to vote on this nomination yet," Schumer said from the Senate floor.

Updated at 4:28 p.m.

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