Cedric Richmond: ‘Irresponsible’ for Senate not to move forward on national security picks


Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana said Tuesday that the U.S. Senate is failing by not quickly holding confirmation hearings for Alejandro Mayorkas, President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security, and other members of Mr. Biden’s national security team.

Mr. Richmond, who is leaving Congress for a job in the Biden administration, said public safety ahead of the Jan. 20 inauguration is top of mind.

“But that requires coordination,” he said on CNN. “And the biggest failure that I’ve seen so far is that the United States Senate has not held hearings on … Mr. Mayorkas.”

Mr. Richmond said that the second Mr. Biden is sworn into office, Mr. Mayorkas would be responsible “for a whole-of-government approach to making sure that these capitals are safe around the country and to make sure that D.C. is safe.”

“The fact that the Senate is not holding hearings so that we can confirm our national security members on day one is irresponsible,” he said.

Chad Wolf, who had been acting homeland security secretary, said Monday he’s stepping down and leaving Pete Gaynor, the head of FEMA, in charge of the department.

Mr. Biden has said that his nominees to lead the departments of homeland security, defense, treasury, and state need to be in their jobs “as soon as possible after January 20th.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing on Jan. 19 for retired Gen. Lloyd Austin, Mr. Biden’s pick to lead the Pentagon.

The Senate Finance Committee is eyeing next week for a confirmation hearing for Janet Yellen, Mr. Biden’s pick for treasury secretary.

Mr. Biden has named Antony Blinken as his pick for secretary of state.

The GOP-led Senate voted to confirm Gen. James Mattis as defense secretary and John Kelly as homeland security secretary hours after President Trump was sworn into office four years ago.

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