Senate sets confirmation vote for Mayorkas after Schumer fights filibuster

Senate sets confirmation vote for Mayorkas after Schumer fights filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Wednesday took the procedural steps needed to end a Republican filibuster that is holding up the confirmation of Alejandro Mayorkas to serve as secretary of Homeland Security.

Schumer filed cloture to Mayorkas’ nomination after Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) confirmed earlier Wednesday that Senate Republicans would object to any efforts to quickly confirm Mayorkas. Cornyn contends that “there are a number of problems” with Mayorkas’ nomination.

Mayorkas is widely expected to be confirmed. Senate Democrats and the Biden administration have pushed for days to move Mayorkas’ nomination forward given the department’s role in preserving national security, helping in the pandemic response and overseeing immigration policy. But GOP opposition is dragging it out.

The cloture vote will take place on Thursday afternoon, and the confirmation vote will take place at 5:30 p.m. on Monday. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) secured that timeline via unanimous consent on the Senate floor on Wednesday afternoon.

On Tuesday, a group of eight senators, led by Cornyn, urged Durbin, the incoming Judiciary Committee chairman, to hold a committee hearing to consider Mayorkas’ nomination — a move that would further delay the process. Durbin shut down the ask as “unnecessary” and called out committee Republicans for what he said was their lack of interest in DHS during the Trump administration.

The Senate Homeland Security Committee on Tuesday moved forward Mayorkas’ nomination to clear the path for a confirmation vote. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) both voted in favor during that committee vote.

Former DHS Secretaries Janet Napolitano and Michael Chertoff on Wednesday expressed concern over Republicans holding up Mayorkas’ nomination seemingly over political differences with the Biden administration.

“What I fear is happening is, disagreements with the president’s policy [are] being used … to hold his nomination hostage,” said Napolitano, who held the position in the Obama administration.

Chertoff, who served under President George W. Bush, added: “Let’s not let Ali Mayorkas’ nomination become a hostage to the fact that some people don’t like a policy. Certainly, we’re at a moment now where, if anything, the challenges for DHS are about as great as they’ve ever been.”

Mayorkas would be the first immigrant and Latino to lead the department. He has been confirmed by the Senate three times already: for deputy secretary at DHS, director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and as U.S. attorney for the Central District of California.

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.

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