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McConnell Urges Caucus to Oppose Mayorkas for Biden DHS Secretary

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) and other Republican leaders hold a press conference in Washington, D.C., December 1, 2020. (Bill O'Leary/Reuters Pool)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged Senate Republicans to vote against President Biden’s choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security, blasting Alejandro Mayorkas as an “ethically-compromised partisan lawyer.”

“Frankly, his record should foreclose confirmation, even to a lower post,” McConnell said Tuesday in a withering speech on the Senate floor, adding that it is “remarkable that someone with this record is even up for a Cabinet appointment. I’ll be voting against his confirmation and urge our colleagues to do the same.”

The Kentucky Republican listed several aspects of Mayorkas’s career that he said make the DHS veteran unworthy of the Cabinet post.

“As a high-ranking official in the Obama administration, Mr. Mayorkas did his best to turn U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services into an unethical favor factory for Democratic Party royalty,” McConnell continued.

McConnell referenced an inspector general report that discovered Mayorkas had intervened to help several foreign investors connected to high-profile Democrats obtain green cards.

Mayorkas previously headed U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, where he promoted a “culture of fear and disrespect,” McConnell charged.

The Senate GOP leader said he has supported Biden’s other Cabinet nominees up to this point because they are “mainstream” choices, but argued Mayorkas is “something else.”

A handful of other Senate Republicans have also voiced concern about Mayorkas’s nomination as DHS chief.

“There’s a number of problems with that nomination that we need to talk about,” Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said last week.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Mayorkas’s qualifications “unassailable.”

“He is a seven-year veteran of the DHS and has already been confirmed by this chamber three — three — times,” Schumer said. “Like most of President Biden’s Cabinet nominees, his nomination is also history-making: He will be the first Latino and first immigrant to hold the top job at DHS.”

The Senate voted to confirm Mayorkas as DHS Secretary Tuesday afternoon in a 56-43 vote.

So far, five of Biden’s Cabinet-level nominees have been confirmed: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

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