Sen. Rick Scott seeking to block DHS nominees until Biden visits southern border
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In a committee hearing, Scott said his decision was not a reflection of their qualifications but a show of protest to the White House’s refusal to refer to the surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border as a "crisis."
"Until the president goes to the border, I’m going to hold the nominations, hopefully with the goal that the president will go see what’s going on at the border and hopefully take more action," the Florida Republican told the nominees.
The senator’s move cannot stop the nomination of John Tien for deputy secretary, Jonathan Meyer for general counsel, and Robert Silvers as undersecretary for strategy, policy and plans. But Scott’s hold can slow the process, as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer will need to file cloture to force a vote on the nominees.
A spokesman for the White House told Fox News the administration is disappointed the nominees did not receive unanimous approval but remains unconcerned by the senator’s actions.
Republicans on the Hill have blamed the increase in southern border crossings on Biden’s reversal of strict Trump-era immigration policies.
"The policies Biden and Harris have implemented are endangering our brave Border Patrol agents and Americans on the frontlines of our border communities and throughout our entire nation," Scott said in a statement Thursday. "If Biden refuses to help those risking their lives every day to keep us safe, and put an end to a humanitarian crisis he has recklessly created, I can’t allow his nominees to move forward in an expedited fashion."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection has reported over 530,000 illegal immigrant encounters at the southern border since January.
Biden tasked Vice President Harris with addressing the "root causes" leading to mass immigration from the Northern Triangle nations, including Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
The vice president has come under fire from Republicans for not yet visiting the border, but the White House has said her role is for diplomatic outreach to get at "root causes" of the exodus from the Northern Triangle nations.
Harris is scheduled to fly to Mexico and Guatemala next month to discuss issues surrounding human rights and corruption.