Controversial DHS Nominee Headed to Full Senate

Republicans voted present on the nominee, who is still under investigation.

Alejandro Mayorkas, assistant secretary of U.S. citizenship and immigration services.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
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Jordain Carney
Dec. 11, 2013, 8:07 a.m.

Ale­jandro May­or­k­as’s nom­in­a­tion to be the next deputy Home­land Se­cur­ity sec­ret­ary is headed to the full Sen­ate, over strong ob­jec­tions from a key Re­pub­lic­an.

The Sen­ate Home­land Se­cur­ity and Gov­ern­ment­al Af­fairs Com­mit­tee ap­proved May­or­k­as’s nom­in­a­tion by a 9-0 vote on Wed­nes­day. Rank­ing mem­ber Tom Coburn called the move “a dis­ser­vice” to the com­mit­tee, which he said has largely avoided par­tis­an­ship.

May­or­k­as’s nom­in­a­tion has been en­snared in con­tro­versy after an email was sent to law­makers in Ju­ly re­veal­ing that May­or­k­as is un­der in­vest­ig­a­tion by the Home­land Se­cur­ity De­part­ment’s In­spect­or Gen­er­al Of­fice. The in­vest­ig­a­tion is look­ing in­to a pro­gram run by the U.S. Cit­izen­ship and Im­mig­ra­tion Ser­vices — a de­part­ment May­or­k­as has over­seen since Au­gust 2009. He has denied any wrong­do­ing.

Be­cause of the on­go­ing in­vest­ig­a­tion, Re­pub­lic­an com­mit­tee mem­bers voted present. After the vote, Coburn said Com­mit­tee Chair­man Tom Carp­er’s de­cision to move for­ward on the nom­in­a­tion dis­cred­its the in­vest­ig­a­tion and the whistle-blowers that came for­ward earli­er this year.

“This hear­ing really isn’t about [May­or­k­as]. It’s about pro­cess, and that’s where the prob­lems are,” Coburn said. The Ok­lahoma Re­pub­lic­an poin­ted to a lack of pre­ced­ence on con­sid­er­ing nom­in­ees that are un­der in­vest­ig­a­tion, adding that “his­tory is telling us clearly not to move for­ward.”

Carp­er said in­vest­ig­at­ors told him earli­er this month that May­or­k­as has yet to be tied to any wrong­do­ing. The in­vest­ig­a­tion isn’t ex­pec­ted to wrap up un­til Feb­ru­ary.

May­or­k­as was nom­in­ated in late June to re­place Jane Holl Lute, who resigned from the de­part­ment in May. Carp­er poin­ted to DHS’s cur­rent de­pend­ence on filling top po­s­i­tions with tem­por­ary lead­er­ship as a key reas­on to push for­ward with the nom­in­a­tion.

“I mean no dis­respect to lead­ers serving in act­ing roles “¦ but act­ing lead­er­ship is no sub­sti­tute,” the Delaware Demo­crat said.

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