Alejandro Mayorkas was narrowly confirmed to head President Joe Biden’s Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday.
The Senate confirmed Mayorkas on a 56-43 vote.
Despite being one of Biden’s first Cabinet nominees to receive a hearing and the Democratic push for him to be quickly confirmed, the vote was held up by Republicans on multiple occasions.
Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said he would block an expedited vote after Mayorkas refused during his hearing to commit $1.4 billion in appropriated funds to former President Donald Trump’s border wall, and last week Republicans said they would filibuster his confirmation vote.
Mayorkas is expected to continue rolling back immigration policies adopted by the Trump administration.
He previously served as deputy secretary of homeland security under former President Barack Obama, leading the department’s Citizenship and Immigration Services agency.
Ahead of the Tuesday afternoon vote, Democrats and Republicans were starkly divided on Mayorkas’ nomination.
“Up to this point I voted in favor the President’s mainstream nominees to key posts,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “Mr. Mayorkas is something else. He does not deserve Senate confirmation.”
McConnell: “Up to this point I voted in favor of the President’s mainstream nominees to key posts,” saying “they were Mainstreet mainstream choices from the President. … Mr. Mayorkas is something else: He does not deserve Senate confirmation.”
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 2, 2021
Mayorkas, who was credited as the architect of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also played a prominent role in the EB-5 visa program, which granted green cards to immigrants who invested at least $500,000 in American companies.
Mayorkas was investigated over his role in the program, with Obama’s inspector general concluding that he “exerted improper influence” over his handling of visas sought by an automotive company led by former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
After leaving the Obama administration, he became a partner at a law firm, where he made over $3 million representing several large corporations.
Mayorkas is Biden’s sixth Cabinet nominee to be confirmed so far.
Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg was overwhelmingly confirmed earlier on Tuesday, while director of national intelligence Avril Haines, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Secretary of State Antony Blinken were confirmed in January.
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