Rick Scott threatens to delay national security nominees until Biden visits border

Rick Scott threatens to delay national security nominees until Biden visits border
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Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) threatened Wednesday to delay President BidenJoe BidenTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Republicans focus tax hike opposition on capital gains change Biden on hecklers: 'This is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler' MORE’s national security nominees, saying he would place a hold on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) positions until the president visits the southern border.

Scott’s comments came as he noted his support for forwarding Biden’s nominee to lead DHS’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

“I clearly support Jen Easterly to be the director of CISA — she’s got the right background to be able to do the job. It has no reflection on her nomination, but I am going to hold all nominations including hers until the president visits the border, and I think the president needs to visit the border and tell us how he is going to address the crisis,” he said in a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee meeting where two nominees were advanced in a unanimous vote.

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Scott’s team clarified the hold would only apply to DHS nominees, largely requiring the Senate to eat up floor time. While the move precludes a unanimous consent vote, few DHS nominees leave committee without some opposition.

But Scott’s move could mean delays for other DHS picks, including the nominee to lead U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, along with those tapped to lead the U.S. cyber security response amid increasing hacks.

“Why would he do that? These are incredibly qualified people, and this is one of the most urgent problems facing this country; that's bizarre,” Sen. Angus KingAngus KingSenate falling behind on infrastructure Hillicon Valley: Senators introduce bill to require some cyber incident reporting | UK citizen arrested in connection to 2020 Twitter hack | Officials warn of cyber vulnerabilities in water systems Bipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor MORE (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told The Hill of the nominations hold. 

“That’s ridiculous. To put the national security of this country in jeopardy for a totally separate question is the height of irresponsibility,” said King, the co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. 

The hold could also affect DHS deputy secretary nominee John Tien; Jonathan Meyer, who has been nominated to serve as general counsel for the department; Robert Silvers, the nominee for under secretary for strategy, policy and plans; and Chris Inglis’s nomination to be National Cyber Director.  

Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperFrustration builds as infrastructure talks drag Democrats pushing for changes to bipartisan infrastructure deal Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal MORE (D-Del.) also pushed back on Scott’s comments, noting that Biden has developed familiarity with the region over his long career in government. 

“President Biden, formerly Vice President Biden, formerly Senator Biden, has probably been to the U.S.-Mexico border more than anybody on this committee, and my guess is he’ll go again. He’s probably been to Central America more times than anybody on this committee,” Carper said during the hearing.