Panel approves Bush pick for Immigration, Customs bureau
Democrats had vowed to opposed Julie Myers' nomination, saying she was unqualified, but only two showed up for vote.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee today approved, on a 7-2 vote, President Bush's nomination of Julie Myers to lead the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau.
While Democrats have repeatedly said Myers is not qualified for the position and vowed to oppose her nomination, only two Democrats -- Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs ranking member Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii -- attended the markup.
The Senate Judiciary Committee now has 30 days to vote on the nominee. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she expects the Judiciary panel to hold a hearing to "probe on the immigration issues."
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff handpicked Myers for the post after working with her at the Justice Department when Chertoff led the criminal division there. If confirmed by the Senate, Myers would control an estimated $3 billion budget and more than 20,000 employees.
Lieberman said Myers lacked the relevant experience in management and immigration issues necessary to run an agency that has been plagued by mismanagement and budgetary problems.
"At this moment, with this particular agency, I want to be absolutely certain that we entrust the agency with someone that has clear management experience," Lieberman said.
Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, also raised concerns about Myers' background during a hearing but said his worries were allayed after meeting recently with Myers and Chertoff.
"After spending a lot of time with Mike Chertoff, he strenuously argued and convinced me that she's got the gear to get the job done," Voinovich said.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., who said last month he would block Myers' nomination until he receives a secret FBI memo about interrogation procedures, was on the Senate floor during today's meeting. Lieberman said Levin had yet to receive the memo, but he did not indicate if Levin would attempt to block the nomination during floor debate.