Senators postpone quick vote on Nielsen

A Senate committee vote on Kirstjen Nielsen's nomination to become the next secretary of Homeland Security was postponed until at least next week.
Kirstjen Nielsen at the Annual Meeting 2016 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 20, 2016. (World Economic Forum / CC-BY-2.0)

A Senate committee vote on Kirstjen Nielsen’s nomination to become the next secretary of Homeland Security was postponed until at least next week after members submitted nearly 200 questions for the record Thursday.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee had been scheduled to hold a vote on the nomination just 24 hours after Nielsen’s confirmation hearing — a breathtakingly fast turnaround for the Senate.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told a business meeting of the committee Thursday that the vote would be delayed until at least Monday, as Nielsen, who is currently White House deputy chief of staff, drafts answers to 197 followup questions that she received from committee members after Wednesday’s hearing.

“To put things into perspective, about the only comparable secretary nomination mid-cycle was [President Barack Obama’s second DHS secretary] Jeh Johnson,” said the chairman. There were 42 questions for the record after that nomination hearing, he added.


“Nobody was doing anything on our side to delay … this nomination,” Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said Thursday. The committee’s ranking member added that postponing the vote was necessary so senators could get the information they needed.

“I certainly agree that we want to do this as quickly as possible, but the delay is more about us waiting for information that we always get for nominees,” she said.

Democrats and Republicans were largely supportive if not deferential during Wednesday’s hearing but some Democrats, including McCaskill, questioned the Nielsen’s experience.

The committee expects to get answers to all the questions by Monday.

“What I’m hoping is if you get those questions and you’re satisfied, we could move the nomination [to] the floor because I think it is extremely important,” he said.

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