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Sen. Sinema peppers Homeland Security nominee over border security

(AP Photos)

PHOENIX – U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona pressed President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security about his intentions for securing the state’s border and protecting Customs and Border Protection personnel amid the coronavirus pandemic.

During Tuesday’s hearing to potentially confirm nominee Alejandro Mayorkas, Sinema, member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee, spent her time honing in on keeping Arizonans safe from cyber threats and the coronavirus.

“As a Senator from a border state, I know how important it is we work across the aisle to tackle threats against Arizona and along our country’s borders,” Sinema said in a press release.

Mayorkas, who would be the first Latino and first immigrant to hold the position, noted that the incoming Biden administration has outlined plans to combat the coronavirus across the United States. He also committed to ensuring outpatient access in rural border towns to ensure homeland security officers can easily access the coronavirus vaccine, if he is confirmed to the post

He also noted that he’s looking towards tackling technology gaps along the border and providing a more modernized approach to the ports of entry and monitoring who and what come into the United States.

“I think the challenges are considerable as are the opportunities,” Mayorkas said.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said that he would block a procedural move to bypass full committee consideration of the nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas to lead DHS.

The move means the Mayorkas confirmation must go to the full Senate and there’s little chance he can be confirmed as Biden takes office Wednesday.

Hawley 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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