The next chair of the House Homeland Security Committee will decide whether Republicans will aggressively step up border security and seek to end the record-high influx of illegal immigrants, or blame the Biden administration for its actions since taking office.
Six Republicans have run for the chair, a coveted position that sets the committee’s agenda for two years. The current leading minority Republican, Rep. John Katko (R-NY), will retire from Congress in early January, leaving a vacancy.
But for Republicans, who are regaining control of the committee after winning a majority of the House seats, the issue isn’t who is most popular, it’s the direction of the GOP.
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More centrist Republicans like Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) want to focus on ending the humanitarian and security crisis on the southern border, where federal police have recorded 4 million encounters with illegal immigrants since President Joe Biden took office.
Crenshaw is one of the newer contenders to jump into the running. He was a member of the Committee during his first term and was selected as a newcomer to chair the Board. He was promoted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee in his second term.
He recently introduced a bill that would target drug and people smuggling organizations profiting from the border crisis to take control of the southern border.
“We need to take the cartels seriously and deter them and target them the same way we target terrorists,” Crenshaw said in a statement about the legislation. “They are more than a criminal threat – they are a national security threat and we should treat them as such.”
Farther to the right, other Republicans want to prioritize investigating and monitoring the actions of the Biden administration for the first two years. These lawmakers are Representatives Mark Green of Tennessee, Michael Guest of Mississippi, Clay Higgins of Louisiana, Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, and Dan Bishop of North Carolina.
Of the six candidates, Bishop, Guest and Higgins sit on the committee. The other three are former members.
Bishop has promised to focus his presidency on holding the Biden administration accountable for what he says has been ignoring the border crisis and other issues.
“They were unprecedented,” Bishop said Bloomberg. “The use of oversight must also be unprecedented.”
Bishop joined Crenshaw, Green and Guest in an April letter in which they accused Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of trying to “dismantle the security of our nation’s southern border.”
Higgins and Perry want to go one step further and remove Mayorkas from office. The two introduced a resolution in August to impeach the Biden nominee.
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The GOP Steering Committee, not House Republicans, chooses the chairman.