Senate opposition to the nomination of Julie Myers to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement has eased, but her fate remains uncertain as no confirmation vote has been scheduled and one freshman senator is against the appointment. The nomination originally ran into trouble because of the perception that she was too inexperienced to head the investigative arm of the Homeland Security Department.
Those concerns had eased, but troubles emerged from her participation in an office Halloween party. Myers judged an employee's costume of dreadlocks, dark makeup and prison stripes as the most original at an ICE Halloween party, and even posed for photographs with the worker.
After conducting a review of the incident, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and ranking member Susan Collins, R-Maine, say they will vote to confirm Myers.
"Sen. Lieberman regrets her lapse in judgment regarding the Halloween incident," a Lieberman spokeswoman said. "He is inclined to support her nomination, given the committee's review of her entire record, the fact that the union representing 7,000 ICE employees supports her and her year's experience in office."
The American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union representing ICE employees, was unable to independently confirm Tuesday that it supports Myers' nomination. "Sen. Collins has concluded that Ms. Myers recognizes that she made serious mistakes in judgment. She clearly regrets the incident and has apologized. Despite this incident, Sen. Collins believes that Ms. Myers has done a good job leading ICE," said Collins' spokeswoman.
President Bush gave Myers -- who is the niece of former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Richard Myers and wife of John Wood, former chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff -- a recess appointment in January 2006. Without Senate confirmation, her appointment expires early next year.
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is "adamantly against" the nomination, her spokeswoman said. McCaskill, a member of the Homeland Security Committee, was at odds with Myers before the Halloween party because ICE was unable to provide statistics showing how many employers have been prosecuted for knowingly hiring illegal immigrants. "She had some serious concerns about Julie Myers before, but those have just been exacerbated by the situation," the spokeswoman said. McCaskill has filed paperwork to place a hold on the confirmation and is trying to persuade other senators to vote against her.
"Ultimately, Sen. McCaskill has no intention of putting an indefinite hold on Julie Myers," the spokeswoman said. "She believes that if and when the nomination comes to the floor, she deserves an up or down vote."
Ultimately, it is up to Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to bring the nomination to the floor for a vote, but no date has been set. Instead, Reid has concerns about Myers and "is consulting with members before deciding how to proceed," a spokesman said.