WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — Due to the attack on the US Capitol and internal turmoil in the Department of Homeland Security, lawmakers say a new DHS secretary needs to be confirmed immediately.
But Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley — one of the senators who objected to certifying the Electoral College votes immediately before the insurrection by a mob on January 6 — blocked the Senate from fast-tracking Alejandro Mayorkas’ confirmation vote.
If confirmed, Mayorkas told Utah Sen. Mitt Romney and the other members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee that he will defend the country from foreign and domestic threats — like the riotous attack on the Capitol.
“The terror that you felt, your colleagues, staff and everyone present will not happen again,” he said.
Romney said, “It is very very important that we have a Secretary of Homeland Security in place as soon as possible.”
Still Republicans like Ohio Sen. Rob Portman brought up past complaints about Mayorkas’ management style along with accusations that Mayorkas, when he was USCIS director, used a visa program to grant political favors.
“One, is this accurate?” Portman asked. “And two, if so, why did you go outside the normal course?”
“It is my job to become involved, to learn the problems that an agency confronts, to become involved in those problems and to fix them,” Mayorkas replied.
Democrats defended the nominee and emphasized his experience as deputy secretary of DHS and director of USCIS.
“Ali administered our immigration laws while preserving our legacy as a nation of immigrants,” said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
Mayorkas told senators he would not defund ICE but plans to fulfill President-elect Joe Biden’s pledge to stop border wall construction and to support Biden’s mission of strengthening protections for DACA and TPS recipients.