Ted Cruz has rejected most of Biden’s cabinet picks so far. John Cornyn has
WASHINGTON – The act of filling President Joe Biden’s cabinet is nearly done, and Texas’ two Republican senators have taken divergent approaches to their roles in the confirmation process.
Of the 21 cabinet-level positions that have been voted on and approved by the Senate so far, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn has voted to confirm 15 of Biden’s nominees. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has voted to confirm only three.
Their different strategies may shed some light on each senator’s role in a Democratic presidential administration and how they see their futures in GOP politics. But their strategies have also left the senators open to criticism of their consistency — and whether they’re opposing some nominees for things they excused or even encouraged during the Trump administration.
Cornyn, the state’s senior senator, has largely taken a more cooperative approach. In a conference call with reporters earlier this month, he said he thought a “new president should be able to pick, within the limits, the people he wants in his Cabinet.”
“I’m not going to take a position of opposition to all the president’s nominees,” he said. “I’m going to pick the ones that I think are objectionable and I will assert myself in opposition to them. But I’m not going just to across-the-board oppose the president’s nominees.”
Still, he has spoken out on a small number of high-profile appointees. His six “no” votes were against Biden’s nominees for the secretaries of homeland security, energy, housing and urban development, the interior and health and human services, and for the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Perhaps his most vociferous objection was for Alejandro Mayorkas, who was tapped to head the Department of Homeland Security. In his position, Mayorkas oversees the Biden administration’s immigration strategy and national security concerns. Cruz and Cornyn were united in their opposition in that case.
In a letter to colleagues, Cruz slammed Mayorkas, who previously served as deputy secretary of homeland security and director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under former President Barack Obama, for a DHS inspector general report in 2015 that said Mayorkas created the appearance of favoritism by intervening in the process of reviewing three visa applications.
Furthermore, Cruz criticized Mayorkas’ involvement in administering the “brazenly unlawful” Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans programs under Obama.Those programs delayed deportations of children brought into the country illegally or parents of Americans or permanent residents. DACA in particular has some support among Republicans, but many conservatives argue that both programs are an overreach of executive power. Texas is suing the federal government in an attempt to get DACA overturned. The courts prevented DAPA from going into effect.
“Even apart from this pattern of unethical conduct, Mr. Mayorkas has shown a repeated disregard for the rule of law,” Cruz said.
Cornyn, meanwhile, told reporters on Capitol Hill that “there’s a number of problems” with the nomination. He led a group of senators, including Cruz, in an attempt to stall Mayorkas’ nomination by having him face the Senate Judiciary Committee for extra scrutiny.
That effort failed and Mayorkas was narrowly confirmed by the Senate. Six Republicans voted in favor of his nomination.
Cornyn and Cruz were also united in their opposition to Neera Tanden as the pick to lead the Office of…