A picture of Senator Tom Coburn
Thomas C.
Former Republican OK
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  • A picture of Senator Tom Coburn

    Executive Session

    by Former Senator Tom Coburn

    Posted on 2013-12-20

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    COBURN. Madam President, the unfortunate thing is we have a disagreement on the precedents of the Senate. We just had the President pro tempore of the Senate say that there were lies and smears. Not one member of the minority voted against Mr. Mayorkas in his confirmation hearing.

    They all voted ``present.'' The reason they did that was for a very important reason. The President pro tempore of the Senate did not mention the fact that there still--regardless of all of those things, there is still an ongoing investigation.

    Never before in the history of the Senate has a position at this level been approved with an ongoing investigation. Facts are stubborn. I would like for him to tell me what the lies and smears are, that he claims, politically we have made. We have made no such claims.

    What we have said is the ICE review of this program said it should be eliminated. It happened to have been authored by the President pro tempore. We had the majority whip on Wednesday night saying the following: My colleague, Senator Tom Carper, chairman of this committee has gone to extraordinary lengths to investigate every allegation-- Is that right? Every allegation? They do not even know what the allegations are because we are not privy to them.

    --to answer every question, and to be there to work with the other side of the aisle to try to resolve any problems that they have with this nomination. Sadly, it has not been successful because we do not know what the claims are. We think we know. We also have the chairman of the committee, before he ever heard the specifics of any complaint by whistleblowers demeaning those very whistleblowers and describing their words as ``rumors and innuendo''--people who put their jobs on the line to report.

    Then he claims they will not meet with him, even though he has asked them to meet twice. I cannot blame them, because he has already dismissed any credibility that they have.

    We should wait for this investigation to be completed. I know we are not going to; we are going to roll this right through here. It is a disservice to Mr. Mayorkas. It is a disservice to the American people. It is a disservice to this body. All that I have heard from people who know Mr. Mayorkas are positive things. It is positive, but a legitimate investigation is ongoing.

    I would make this other point: The administration knew that there was an ongoing IG investigation, and it failed to inform the chairman and failed to inform the ranking member when they sent his nomination over. Why is that? Why would they not tell us that? Was it just an oversight, or did they intend for us not to know? The worst thing that comes about because of this nomination moving forward is the relationship and the trust that has gone from our committee. The difficulties going forward will be major because things have been implied that I, personally, am doing things for a political purpose rather than from a principled basis. There is no nominee who is under an investigation that I will ever meet with before that investigation is cleared.

    The other claim that has been made is we wouldn't meet with Mr. Mayorkas because we didn't want to know the truth. The fact is we didn't want to prejudice our position without the knowledge of the facts, but that has not kept some in this body from claiming we had a motive other than what we have stated. Therefore, all our motives, rather than finding out the truth, our motives are that it has to be political.

    I reject that. I take great offense at that.

    I have no doubt that Mr. Mayorkas will be confirmed today.

    The question I have is if, in fact, the IG investigation finds credible findings of wrongdoing or undue influence or impropriety, what then? How effective is this going to be? I am not saying they will find it; I don't know. But we certainly know. The extent of the chairman's investigation is meeting with the nominee--and I am sure he is an honorable man. But my duty as a Senator is to know the facts, not to know my feelings, and we can't do that at this time. We are precluded from doing that.

    Therefore, we are going to approve someone without full knowledge. We will not be able to ably give our advice and consent because we know there are unanswered questions. If those unanswered questions fall to the side that says Mr. Mayorkas has done nothing wrong, then he will be there, but he will be there in less full power and less confidence than he would have had otherwise.

    There have been 20 nominees that have come through our committee. I have voted against only one--only one. I have been a good partner for the administration in moving their nominees. But to ask us to ignore what might be potential critical information is to ask us to abandon our duty of advice and consent.

    I reserve the remainder of my time.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.

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