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House oversight panel clashes at hearing on border security

Suzanne Monyak, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — Lawmakers on a House oversight panel traded barbs Tuesday at a hearing over the Biden administration’s policies at the U.S.-Mexico border, as Democrats accused their Republican colleagues of fueling inflammatory rhetoric against migrants.

Rep. James R. Comer, R-Ky., who chairs the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said the aim of the hearing was “to gather facts about the border crisis from career law enforcement officials.” It featured testimony from two U.S. Border Patrol chiefs from sectors in Texas and Arizona and was the second House hearing on the border this month.

But congressional Democrats on the oversight committee argued again that the new Republican majority in the House held the hearing as a political opportunity to hammer the administration on high migration levels.

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., said migrants have been “increasingly dehumanized as a direct result of Republicans’ xenophobic rhetoric.” Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost, D-Fla., accused Republicans of launching the hearing with “hyperbole and posturing.” Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., said his Republican colleagues are trying to “further their narrative and the agenda they want to push.”

And Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the committee, condemned Republicans for blocking immigration bills Democrats had passed, including a bipartisan immigration package the Senate passed a decade ago.

“The political problem on Capitol Hill is that when it comes to working out balanced, common-sense immigration policy solutions, Republicans driven by the MAGA wing have been systematically thwarting and derailing comprehensive efforts to improve America’s immigration system and strengthen border enforcement for years,” Raskin said in his opening remarks.


Comer pushed back against those remarks. “I believe my Democrat friends are confusing real oversight with fanning flames. Conducting oversight allows us to gather facts, to solve problems, not fan flames,” Comer said.

The dispute came to a head with a tweet from the official Twitter account for committee Democrats that said Republicans “are using today’s hearing to amplify white nationalist conspiracy theories instead of a comprehensive solution to protect our borders and strengthen our immigration system.”

Comer read the tweet out loud. He called it “very disturbing” and said it was against committee rules to “question the motives of a colleague.”

The reading of the tweet also prompted a sharp rebuke from Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., who interjected after the witnesses were sworn in.


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