Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On The Urgent Need To Confirm Alejandro Mayorkas As DHS Secretary And President Biden’s Cabinet Nominees

January 28, 2021

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the need to swiftly confirm President Biden’s nominee to be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Over the past week, the Senate has been confirming President Biden’s cabinet nominees with significant cooperation between the both parties. Today however, the Republican minority has forced the Senate to jump through a series of procedural hoops that will further delay the confirmation of one of our country’s chief national security officials: the Secretary of Homeland Security.

It has now been eight days since President Biden was sworn into office, and as a result of the objection from one member—just one member—of the Republican minority, it will be another four more until we can complete the nomination of Mr. Mayorkas to be our next Secretary of Homeland Security. What could have been the tidy work of a few hours on President Biden’s first day will drag on for a week and a half. Make no mistake about it: he will be confirmed. This dilatory action will not succeed, but it will prevent the Senate from doing other important business.

It has become a point of pride for the Republican leadership to say that they are treating President Biden’s nominees more fairly than Mr. Trump’s. But I would remind my colleagues that former President Trump had his first DHS Secretary, Secretary Kelly, confirmed on his Inauguration Day.

There’s a reason that there has been bipartisan cooperation in the past to confirm the Homeland Security Secretary. Whatever our differences on policy, both parties have agreed that the prolonged delay of these nominations is no good—no good—for our national security.

And, that’s particularly the case right now. Our government recently suffered an unprecedented cyber-attack. In the wake of January 6th, the threat of violence and domestic terrorism remain a great concern. But because of the tactics of some Republican members—particularly the junior Senator from Missouri—Mr. Mayorkas’ nomination is being needlessly stalled.

My friends on the other side don’t have to agree with Mr. Mayorkas on the finer points of every policy. I’m sure they don’t share the exact views of every appointment to a Democratic president’s cabinet. But that is not a sufficient reason to oppose a nomination, especially one as important as the Secretary of Homeland Security.

You don’t have to take my word for it. Listen to Michael Chertoff, President Bush’s former DHS Secretary. He said, “If members of Congress want to contest elements of [Biden’s proposals] they are free to do so,” he said. “But hostage taking is not an appropriate way to do this, particularly if a result of that is to put the lives of Americans in jeopardy.”

Chertoff went on to say that actions to thwart Mr. Mayorkas’ confirmation were “irresponsible and unconscionable.”

Irresponsible and Unconscionable. That’s President Bush’s former Secretary of Homeland Security, not a Democrat.  

Well, the Senate is not going to tolerate this irresponsible and unconscionable delay. Despite the tactics from the Republican side, the Senate will begin work on this crucial nomination—today—and he will be confirmed. 

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