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Former DHS heads blast Republicans for stalling Biden nominee Mayorkas

Former DHS heads blast Republicans for stalling Biden nominee Mayorkas
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Former Homeland Security officials on Wednesday criticized Senate Republicans as the party seeks to stall the confirmation of President BidenJoe BidenThe West needs a more collaborative approach to Taiwan Abbott's medical advisers were not all consulted before he lifted Texas mask mandate House approves George Floyd Justice in Policing Act MORE’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasPavlich: Mayorkas' reckless invitation ensures border crisis is about to explode House plans for immigration bills add uncertainty on Biden proposal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - J&J vax rollout today; third woman accuses Cuomo MORE, who served as the department’s deputy during the Obama administration, is the last of the four major national security positions that has yet to be confirmed by the Senate.

Republicans forced Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel splits along party lines on Becerra House Democrats' ambitious agenda set to run into Senate blockade A Biden stumble on China? MORE (D-N.Y.) to file cloture on Mayorkas's nomination, a procedural step that will eat up days of time, after Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyGarland's AG nomination delayed by GOP roadblocks The Memo: Is Trump mounting a comeback — or finally fading? House plans for immigration bills add uncertainty on Biden proposal MORE (R-Mo.) placed a hold on the nominee.

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The vote could come as soon as Friday, but former DHS Secretaries Janet Napolitano, who served in the Obama era, and Michael Chertoff, who served under former President George W. Bush, criticized Republicans for slow-walking an important nomination.  

“The tradition has been understandably that national security positions within the incoming administration are confirmed on the day of inauguration,” Chertoff said in a call with reporters.

“Certainly we're at a moment now where ... the challenges for DHS are about as crazy as they've ever been,” he said, citing international and domestic terrorism, the attack on the Capitol, the SolarWinds cyberattack, climate change and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“Ali has been [Senate] confirmed three previous times,” Napolitano said, using Mayorkas’s nickname. “It really mystifies me. What benefit is being served by this continued delay in his confirmation?”

Republican lawmakers have argued Mayorkas’s alignment with Biden’s immigration plan and calls to stop the border wall deserve more scrutiny, while others have drawn attention to a 2015 inspector general report that found he intervened in immigration cases at the behest of some Democrats, though Mayorkas said he stepped into a broken process on behalf of lawmakers from both parties.

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“Just today, he declined to say he would enforce the laws Congress has already passed to secure the border wall system. Given this, I cannot consent to skip the standard vetting process and fast-track this nomination,” Hawley said when announcing his hold.

“Look, if members of Congress want to contest elements of the proposal they are free to do so,” Chertoff said of Republican opposition to Biden’s immigration proposal.

“But hostage-taking is not an appropriate way to use this, particularly if the result of that is to put the lives of Americans in jeopardy. It’s irresponsible and unconscionable,” Chertoff said of the Republican opposition.

In a floor speech Monday, Schumer called it the Senate’s responsibility “to make sure key national security officials are on the job, keeping our country safe.”

“The Senate must confirm his nomination in very short order, and we will make sure that happens," he said.