The Senate voted to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas as Secretary of Homeland Security on Tuesday over the objections of Republicans who argued his record in the Obama administration should disqualify him from the influential post.
Mayorkas was confirmed in a 56-43 vote, the slimmest margin for any Biden appointee’s confirmation. The former head of U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services, Mayorkas faced stiff opposition from Republicans.
The Justice Department Inspector General found that Mayorkas “exerted improper influence” over the EB-5 visa program, allegedly providing visas for friends of high-profile Democrats.
“Alejandro Mayorkas has flouted immigration law, embroiled himself in scandals, intimidated whistleblowers, abused power on behalf of powerful Democrats, and engineered unconstitutional executive amnesty programs to skirt the will of Congress,” Senator Tom Cotton commented in a statement.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) urged colleagues to vote against confirmation in a floor speech on Tuesday.
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,” McConnell said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) touted Mayorkas’s nomination.
“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 also voted 86-13 on Tuesday to confirm former South Bend, Ind., mayor Pete Buttigieg as Transportation Secretary. Buttigieg ran for president in the Democratic primaries, but bowed out following Biden’s win in South Carolina in late February.