Senate Republicans apparently have a problem with President Joe Biden making 'immigration an early and major focus of his Administration.'
Senate Republicans made clear this week their intention to obstruct President Joe Biden's nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, through any means possible — with eight GOP senators penning a letter Monday objecting to his confirmation because they feel he's too concerned about immigrants to do the job properly.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) announced to reporters Wednesday that the Senate GOP intended to filibuster the nomination. He claimed "there's a number of problems" with Mayorkas filling the DHS role.
While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had moved to have the nomination go through quickly, GOP obstructionists have complicated the process. A cloture vote to break the filibuster, which would require 51 votes, is on the schedule for 1:45 p.m. Thursday. If cloture is invoked and the filibuster broken, Mayorkas' confirmation vote will take place Monday.
On Jan. 19, Mayorkas' nomination was advanced after a thorough hearing before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, with Republican Sens. Rob Portman and Mitt Romney voting in favor of the nominee.
But other Senate Republicans were quick to begin efforts to block Mayorkas' confirmation. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) first moved to delay the advancement of the nominee. Then, in a letter sent to Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), and Gary Peters (D-MI) on Monday and released Tuesday, eight Republicans serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee demanded that Mayorkas appear for a second hearing before their committee in addition to his already-completed Jan. 19 hearing.
The eight signers of the letter were Sens. Cornyn, Hawley, Mike Lee (UT), Joni Ernst (IA), Marsha Blackburn (TN), Thom Tillis (NC), Ted Cruz (TX), and Ben Sasse (NE). Three additional Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee — Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Mike Crapo (R-ID) — did not sign.
The eight Republicans writing the letter said their major concern is that Biden "has pledged to make immigration an early and major focus of his Administration."
"Legislative proposals will form part of the agenda, but President Biden also plans to make significant regulatory and policy changes within the Department of Homeland Security," they wrote.
They also expressed concerns that Mayorkas would be too invested in immigrants and immigration reform since Biden previously said Mayorkas would have a "critical role" in fixing a "broken immigration system."
"When he announced his nomination of Mr. Mayorkas, President Biden stated that he would play a 'critical role in fixing our broken immigration system,'" wrote the group of Senate Republicans.
"And in his testimony before the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Mr. Mayorkas spoke about the Administration’s immigration priorities at length, addressing issues such as asylum, apprehensions along the southern border, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and the EB-5 investor visa program. In short, immigration will be the top focus of our next Secretary of Homeland Security," the letter said.
Invoking the 25th Senate rule, which states that the Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over "matters relating to immigration," they requested a second hearing, despite a bipartisan vote in his first hearing successfully advancing his nomination.
But Mayorkas, notes a Politico report, "has been confirmed by the Senate three times already: for deputy secretary at DHS, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and as U.S. attorney for the Central District of California."
Durbin was swift to condemn the GOP obstructionism as a political spectacle.
"If a man with his background is being held it's totally political as far as I'm concerned," the Illinois Democrat told Politico.
Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security during former President Barack Obama's administration, also said the move to delay Mayorkas' confirmation was disingenuous.
"What I fear is happening is, disagreements with the president's policy [are] being used … to hold his nomination hostage," she said.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.