hawley-blocks-mayorkas Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.
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The Missouri senator says he doesn’t agree with Alejandro Mayorkas about stopping construction on the border wall.

Although Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley voted to overturn the 2020 presidential election, he still showed up at President Joe Biden’s inauguration today. And just hours before the grand ceremony, Sen. Hawley once again interfered with President Biden’s goal to appoint Alejandro Mayorkas to lead the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). 

Yesterday, Sen. Hawley said he would block a procedural move to bypass the full committee consideration of the nomination of Mayorkas to take over the DHS. His block on a quick confirmation of Mayorkas means that David P. Pekoske will serve as Acting Secretary for the DHS until Mayorkas is confirmed. 

The GOP senator said he made the move because Mayorkas, in his confirmation hearing, would not commit to spending the $1.4 billion appropriated to expand the border wall with Mexico. Biden said he would halt future construction and Mayorkas said he would have to determine how the law requires DHS to spend the money. Hawley also said Mayorkas did not “adequately” explain how he would enforce border security.

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Immigration advocates urged a speedy confirmation of Mayorkas to lead the federal agency tasked with implementing immigration law and preserving national security at a difficult moment in the nation’s history.

“In delaying the vote at this critical hour, Sen. Hawley’s xenophobic ploy reveals his reasoning for delaying the vote is rooted in anything but the safety and security of the nation,” said Kelli García, federal policy counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center Action Fund, in a statement provided to The Americano. “After nearly two years without a confirmed Secretary, and in a moment of national crisis, it is imperative that the Senate vote on Mr. Mayorkas’ nomination forthwith.”

The decision by the Missouri Republican comes as other senators urge a quick confirmation for a secretary of Homeland Security given threats that include the massive cyber attack on the US government and the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol. 

Hawley has drawn intense criticism since Jan. 6 from Democrats and fellow Republicans for cheering pro-Trump protesters gathering outside the building with a thumbs up and fist pump and for supporting baseless claims of election fraud.

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“We urge senators from both sides of the aisle to put politics aside and move swiftly to confirm Mayorkas so that DHS can begin the critical and long-overdue work of modernizing our immigration system. His appointment signals a transition from cruel policies at the agency to a focus on greater inclusion and integration of immigrants and refugees into the social, economic, and cultural fabric of our society,” said Nicole Melaku, executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans, in a statement provided to The Americano.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.