Former Homeland Security officials on Wednesday criticized Senate Republicans as the party seeks to stall the confirmation of President BidenJoe BidenPressure grows for breakthrough in Biden agenda talks State school board leaves national association saying they called parents domestic terrorists Sunday shows preview: Supply chain crisis threaten holiday sales; uncertainty over whether US can sustain nationwide downward trend in COVID-19 cases MORE’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Alejandro MayorkasAlejandro MayorkasJohns Hopkins to launch degree program in cybersecurity and policy The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - New front in mandate wars; debt bill heads to Biden DHS to end workplace raids, shift focus to employers over undocumented workers 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 SchumerBiden's Supreme Court commission ends not with a bang but a whimper Hispanic organizations call for Latino climate justice in reconciliation Senate to vote next week on Freedom to Vote Act 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 HawleyBiden's push for unity collides with entrenched partisanship The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike The Memo: Culture war intensifies over school boards MORE (R-Mo.) placed a hold on the nominee.
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.
“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.