Homeland Security chair dresses down Trump cabinet official

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, sent a letter to Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, calling on her to reconsider her refusal to testify before the Committee next week.

In the letter, Thompson told Nielsen, that her “decision to refuse my invitation to testify” before the committee about border security “is unreasonable and unacceptable.”

“Your attempt to use the President’s recent shutdown as an excuse not to testify before Congress prior to the impending shutdown is outrageous,” said Thompson. “As Secretary of Homeland Security, you should be prepared to testify on border security, the very issue that caused the recent shutdown, at any time.”

“During the shutdown, you made numerous public appearances and comments regarding border security,”Thompson said. “You should be well prepared to inform the public about the Department of Homeland Security’s border security needs as well as provide Congress with accurate information that can inform any pending border security legislation.”

The federal government shutdown put homeland security at risk, cost the economy $11 billion, and “caused incalculable harm to the country,” according to Thompson.

With Trump again threatening to shut down the government, Neilsen’s failure to appear before Congress makes it difficult to stop another shutdown.

“The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security continue to carry out their duties admirably despite difficult and uncertain circumstances,” Thompson told the Secretary. “I am hopeful you will follow their lead and agree to testify before the Committee on Homeland Security on February 6.”

Thompson the U.S. Representative for Mississippi’s 2nd congressional district since 1993, is a Democrat who returned as Homeland Security chairman when Congress reorganized in January, having previously held the position from 2007 to 2011.

From his position on the Homeland Security Committee, Thompson pushed for accountability at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and a careful review of disaster response performance of the Red Cross after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit in 2005.

During his tenure as chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, the panel has bolstered resources and operational capacity within the agency by passing legislation authorizing TSA, the Coast Guard, and other critical component agencies.

Thompson has expressed the belief that Americans can protect civil rights and civil liberties while working in a bipartisan way to ensure the nation is secure from foreign and domestic threats.

Click here to read the letter


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