Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s nominee for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security testified Tuesday at his confirmation hearing. He would be the first Latino and first immigrant to lead the agency.
Watch the hearing in the player above.
Mayorkas faced questions from Sen. Rob Portman, the Ohio Republican who chairs the Homeland Security committee, about an inspector general’s report that criticized his management of an investor visa program that he oversaw as head of the immigration services committee under President Barack Obama. The IG said that he created a perception of bias by overturning decisions on behalf of three investment projects backed by prominent Democrats.
Mayorkas strongly defended his actions, saying he intervened in many decisions at the agency on behalf of Republican and Democrats in Congress when he felt that the action was legitimate and necessary to solve problems such as those with the investor program.
“I learned of problems and fixed them,” Mayorkas said.
Several senators said it was important to quickly confirm a new head of Homeland Security given the threats facing the nation from the pandemic, the massive SolarWinds cyber-hack that authorities suspect was carried out by Russia, and the rising threat of domestic extremists.
Putting his national security team in place quickly is a high priority for Biden, not only because of his hopes for reversing or modifying Trump administration policy shifts but also because of diplomatic, military and intelligence problems around the world that may create challenges early in his tenure.