House Short on Time to Hear from DHS Secretary

Democrats in the House of Representatives have expressed an interest in looking further into the budget proposed for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but the relevant committees may struggle to find time on DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s schedule, according to Government Executive.

“Thursday, Nielsen is scheduled to make a rare appearance in front of the House Judiciary Committee‚ still led by Republicans. The committee, tasked with vetting the legality of DHS actions, had not held a single hearing on the topic in years…” writes Heather Timmons “Nielsen was supposed to testify earlier this month but postponed, and Democrats’ earlier request that she testify before the Oversight Committee was ignored by its outgoing Republican chairman.”

With the Democratic majority not officially seated until January 3rd, members face a tough time getting Nielsen to appear, given her established travel schedule.

“After her testimony, Nielsen plans to travel overseas for much of January, according to former DHS employees briefed on her schedule, capped by a trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos that starts Jan. 22.,” notes Timmons. “Soon after Davos, Nielsen is expected to announce she is leaving the agency, according to several former and current DHS officials.”

Nielsen has come under fire from multiple sides during her tenure. A noted, close ally of former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Nielsen reportedly enjoyed Kelly’s defense when others within the administration suggested firing her. The House Homeland Security Committee, among others, have scheduled hearings on matters central to DHS, including recent public discussions about a border wall and other immigration policies, with Timmons noting that the committees, barring Nielsen’s agreement to appear, now boast subpoena power.

“Given the many oversight and legislative activities that will undoubtedly take place in the next Congress, Nielsen should be eager to testify before Congress next year on the administration’s homeland security policies,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, incoming chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. “She has only come before our committee once.”

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