Panel sends DHS nominee Alejandro Mayorkas to Senate floor

Alejandro Mayorkas, President Obama's nominee to become deputy secretary of the Homeland Security Department, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington. | AP Photo
All Democrats on the committee voted in favor of Alejandro Mayorkas. | AP Photo
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted to advance a top Department of Homeland Security nominee to the Senate floor, despite the fact that he is the subject of an active inspector general investigation.
In a party line vote, all Democrats on the committee voted in favor of Alejandro Mayorkas to be the No. 2 at DHS. Republicans all voted “present,” protesting the approval of a nominee under investigation.
Continue Reading
“The Republican members have agreed to vote present because we don’t have the information to make a decision on this nominee,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the committee. “I’m extremely unhappy that it worked this way. I think we have done a disservice to this committee.”
Despite those partisan fireworks and GOP resistance, Mayorkas is on track for confirmation due to a Senate rules change that requires only a majority vote to end filibusters.
The GOP also boycotted Mayorkas’s confirmation hearing in July, asking Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) to push back consideration of the nomination until the investigation is concluded. Republicans have released information about an IG probe into Mayorkas, raising questions about whether he improperly aided a company owned by the brother of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with foreign investor visas.
During his confirmation hearing in July, Mayorkas told senators that he has “never, ever in my career exercised undue influence to influence the outcome of a case.”
Carper said both Democratic and Republican committee staffers were recently briefed by the inspector general on the investigation and that “to date, they have found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by anybody” at the Department of Homeland Security.
Carper also noted that Mayorkas himself has never been contacted by investigators – “no phone call, no letter, no email, nothing.” And he was critical of Republicans who have refused to meet with Mayorkas himself to address the allegations.
“Acting management, acting leadership is no substitute for Senate-confirmed leadership,” Carper said. “We don’t need it next February, or next March. We need it now.”
Coburn said holding the confirmation vote on Mayorkas “appears to be virtually without precedent” since the inspector general’s investigation is ongoing. He said there are six whistleblowers who have privately raised concerns about Mayorkas’s actions to both Coburn and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and tossed aside Democrats’ assumptions that the IG investigation has likely found no wrongdoing.
“It is not true to assume that there has been no wrongdoing,” Coburn said. “So that’s why we need an IG report.”
But Democrats said the IG investigation has dragged on for 15 months and questioned why it had not been fast-tracked due to the high-profile nature of the probe and of Mayorkas’s nomination. Carper said the IG’s office recently told Democrats that it would be several months before the investigation would conclude, which Democrats view as an unnecessary delay given the importance of the position.
Democrats also contend the IG has declined to respond to questions posed in a November letter by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) about why Republicans were notified of the investigation while Democrats were not.
DHS has been plagued by lack of Senate-confirmed leadership in its top posts. It is currently operating without a confirmed leader — after former secretary Janet Napolitano left this fall to lead the University of California system – but DHS nominee Jeh Johnson is expected to be confirmed this month.
The Senate previously confirmed Mayorkas twice for other positions. He is a former federal prosecutor in California and is currently the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Back to top