Rosen, Hawley & a DHS nominee: Are we unified yet?

what'll ya know
Oh look she was seated next to him during a hearing in 2019. (Photo by Rosen's office)
what'll ya know
Oh look she was seated next to him during a hearing in 2019. (Photo by Rosen’s office)

No one expected Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen to be anything but supportive of Joe Biden’s nominee to head the Department of Homeland Security, especially on inauguration eve.

And sure enough, when it came her turn to ask questions of Alejandro Mayorkas during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on his nomination to head DHS Tuesday, Rosen sought — and got — assurances that the Biden administration would not harass Nevada’s 13,000 Dreamers and 4,000 people with Temporary Protected Status, like the Trump administration always did.

On the other hand, Rosen’s Republican colleague on the panel, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, took a different approach. 

Picking up where he left off on January 6 when he raised a triumphant fist to show approval of violent insurrectionists mounting an assault on the U.S. Congress, Hawley continued to advance the proposition Tuesday that the greatest threat to the U.S. today is people who aren’t white like him.

Ugly truth: As it happens, the greatest threat to the U.S. today, security-wise, is, well, people who are white like him.

But if folks who choose to believe things Hawley chooses to believe instead started paying attention to facts, they wouldn’t have bought into the Trump lie that the election was “stolen” in the first place. There would have been no assault on Congress on January 6. Hawley would be taking his job as U.S. senator seriously instead of thrashing about yelling “Look at me! Look at me!” like the media whore he is.

Long story short: Hawley issued a statement after the hearing saying he will object to the fast-track process used fairly routinely to approve a new president’s national security team. Since Senate rules are nigglingly Byzantine and dainty, Hawley’s objections will have two consequences. First, it will delay Mayorkas’s confirmation for a few days. And second — and much more important to Hawley — it will yet again nurture Hawley’s status as the darling of conspiracy theorists, Trump lie believers, and others who hate America As It Is and wish an authoritarian dictator would take over and jail all the socialist radical left people or whatever.

Which brings us back to Rosen. 

No, she is not of the socialist radical left.

Sadly. 

But she is going to be in the Senate as Biden tries to pass the immigration bill Mayorkas was touting to Rosen at Tuesday’s hearing. She’ll also be in the Senate as she and her fellow Democrats try to pass the $1.9 trillion relief package that Rosen and every other Nevada Democrat has declared more critical to Nevada than perhaps to any other state. And she’ll be in the Senate to consider multiple other pieces of legislation that are part of Biden’s agenda to Make America Suck Less Again.

Rosen cherishes her brand as one of those members of Congress who is always looking for an opportunity to reach across the aisle and cooperate with the other side. Like she did that one time in the House when she was one of only 18 Democrats to vote with Republicans for a red-meat Trumpist resolution supporting ICE.

The temptation for Rosen to relive such moments of surrender to, er, accommodation of Republican positions will be more intense over the next few months than at any time during her relatively brief career as a public official. Because as you may have noticed, a lot of Democrats are talking about the need to “unify” the country. And a lot of Republicans are saying the best way for Democrats to unify the country is to cave to Republicans. Which makes sense, because caving to Republicans is what Democrats in Washington have been doing pretty consistently since, oh, 1977. (Calling it the Department of Homeland Security is itself a surrender to the rhetoric of the right. Also it sounds like Fatherland, which has always been deeply disturbing, even more so because people generally don’t seem to find it deeply disturbing. But I digress…).

So yay for terrible horrible no good very bad Josh Hawley. Maybe his antics, along with those of Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton and other Republicans will remind accommodationist-minded Democrats like Rosen that her constituents will be much better off if Democrats just cold whoop Republicans instead of working with them.

In conclusion: Okay then. Who’s up for ending the filibuster?

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and author of the Las Vegas Gleaner political blog. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and editor at the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune.