Homeland Security Hearing Leads to Fireworks

Last Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing on the nomination of Jeh Johnson to become the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  The hearing was largely genial, with most senators stating that they expected him to win confirmation easily.

That is until Gang of Eight Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) provided the fireworks of the day when he pressed Johnson over DHS’s troubling inability to provide border security metrics. “When we were trying to develop [S. 744], we went time after time to the Department of Homeland Security to get what was needed to get the border secure… We never got that from the Department of Homeland Security—never.  We had to go directly to the Border Patrol.”  He then asked, “Can you tell this committee that you will not repeat what happened to us and the frustration that we experienced? And I want to know what—from you, what is required for us to have 90 percent effective control of the border. Can you assure this committee of that?”

Johnson responded by saying “I will commit to working with you…” whereupon McCain answered “No. I’m not asking you to work [] with me.”  Johnson twice tried the formulation, “I’m inclined to give you what you need, sir,” but McCain said “I’m not asking for your inclination, I’m asking for a yes or no answer.”  Johnson told him that though he “very much wanted” to commit unequivocally to the question, he needed to speak with others at DHS to better understand the issue. Finally, he promised his cooperation, which McCain rejected. “I’m not asking for cooperation. I’m asking for information.”

Based on his anger at DHS’s problems in carrying out its mission to secure our borders, one would hardly recognize the amnesty proponent who gave DHS’s ability to secure the border a vote of considerable confidence through his enthusiastic development and backing of the Senate’s amnesty bill, which gives the Secretary of DHS even more discretionary authority than current law provides. Indeed, Senator McCain also expressed frustration over how the last Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, had frequently stated “the border is more secure than ever,” telling Johnson, “So for years, the secretary of homeland security said, well, apprehensions are up so — the border’s more secure because there was reduction in apprehensions. Now the apprehensions are up. And so here we are, faced with a situation where the border is still not secure.”

After the hearing, McCain told reporters “I have a hold on his nomination.  He refused to tell me that he would give me the information necessary as to what is necessary to have 90 percent effective control of our border.” (Politico, Nov. 13, 2013) Fellow Gang of Eight Senator Lindsey Graham has also vowed to block Jeh Johnson’s nomination as he has vowed to block all of Obama’s nominees until the administration makes the survivors of last year’s terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi available to Congress for questioning.  (Washington Post, Nov. 10, 2013).

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Content written by Federation for American Immigration Reform staff.


  1. avatar

    I think McCain may be a little nervous about his reelection if he plans to run again. I can’t understand why he is still in office with his open borders stance. I remember seeing some photos of two of his town hall meetings. The first one he was yelled at by some of his constituents but at the second one he had called in a room full of Latinos to take up all of the seats. His constituents had to stand for most of the meeting. I guess he wanted to show the voter’s just which side he favored. What a crook.

  2. avatar

    We could all write a book on this immigration mess that so many of our politicians don’t care about, are
    paid not to care about, are gaining in some way by not caring about!! When all the time we the American
    citizens can see how to fix this with but a few very common sense moves!
    To start with NO Amnesty!, Secure OUR Borders! Enforce OUR Laws that are already on our books!
    USE E-Verify! Let OUR Law enforcement do their job!! NOW politicians what could be so hard about
    doing that??? Try It, It just might Work!! I bet We Americans would love such a move!

  3. avatar
    John Stevenson on

    Why does John McCain demand only 90% of border security?!… We need 100%. NO TOLERANCE; NO MORE EXCUSES!

  4. avatar

    I don’t understand some of our politicians, the same ones that are pushing for amnesty, are also pushing for the closure of our borders, its like they are flip flopping. Any person that Obama or his administration put in office are anti Americas, they are Obama’s soldiers and they will do what it takes to destroy our constitution and our country

    • avatar

      Daniel, the phrase “Let’s secure the border,” is the one used by all politicians and means nothing. As long as they say it, they think they’ve done their jobs and that we believe them. This includes both parties. None are reliable anymore. Illegal immigration is too profitable for our “leaders.” They hope for the votes from the anti-American, pro-illegal supporters to keep them at the public trough as long as possible. We no longer have politicians who repesent us. Just follow the money.

  5. avatar

    The democrats and Obama are just forcing laws we don’t ask for and putting more solcialist in government,the Republicans need to stand strong because that is what we the people want them to do,we also have some republicans like McCain who are two faced and are just as bad as Obama him self, they need to be gotten reid of to.

  6. avatar

    If the majority in the senate had any intelligence, they would be used to BO’s unqualified puppet nominees, and stop giving them a pass completely!

  7. avatar

    Johnson’s answers to McCain are nothing more than the typical sleight of hand this administration practices. Which shell is the pea under. It’s actually none of them. If there were actual enforcement procedures in the Senate bill, by now they could be easily spelled out. They’re not there.

    So why shouldn’t we expect those enforcement policies to be specifically spelled out and actually put into laws passed by Congress.

    As for McCain, he’s mr. any way the wind blows. Now that the president’s credibility has taken a hit, the good senator is again tough on enforcement. But where was he a few months ago? Why was he not insisting those things be spelled out in the bill before it was passed.