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News > U.S.

Biden's National Security Nominees Appear in Senate Hearings

  • National Guard soldiers secure the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., U.S., Jan. 13, 2021.

    National Guard soldiers secure the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., U.S., Jan. 13, 2021. | Photo: Xinhua

Published 20 January 2021

They vowing to keep their agencies apolitical and tackle domestic violence.

President-elect Joe Biden's nominees for homeland security secretary, director of national intelligence (DNI), and defense secretary appeared on Tuesday in confirmation hearings at the Senate.


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The first woman to lead the office of the DNI if confirmed, Avril Haines told members of the Senate Intelligence Committee that she would keep politics out of the intelligence community.

"To be effective, the DNI must never shy away from speaking truth to power -- even, especially, when doing so may be inconvenient or difficult," she said. "To safeguard the integrity of our intelligence community, the DNI must insist that, when it comes to intelligence, there is simply no place for politics ever."

The anticipated intelligence chief said the conducts by President Donald Trump's supporters were "truly disturbing" and that the intelligence community would "examine "connections between folks in the U.S. and externally."

Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden's pick for homeland security secretary, called the threat of domestic extremism "one of the greatest challenges the Department of Homeland Security confronts," and said that the events on Jan. 6 on Capitol Hill were "horrifying," pledging that he would make sure that "the tragic loss of life, the assault on law enforcement, the desecration" of the Capitol "will not happen again."

The first Latino to lead the Department of Homeland Security once confirmed, Mayorkas said he would study the authority the federal government has in ending the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, a signature of Trump's harsh immigration policy. "We don't need nor should we have a monolithic answer to that varied and diverse challenge" at the U.S. southern border, he said.

Mayorkas also said he supported Biden's sweeping immigration overhaul to give aliens now living in the United States without legal status an eight-year pathway to citizenship. Biden is expected to formally introduce the plan Wednesday.

Austin Lloyd, a former four-star army general, needs a waiver agreed by both the House and the Senate to become the country's first African American defense secretary, since U.S. law requires former military leaders to retire for at least seven years to head the Pentagon.

He said he is devoted to "civilian control of our armed forces," assuring the senators that if confirmed, he would make sure his commander in chief "will not be a military person."

The former head of U.S. Central Command said he would "fight hard... to rid our ranks of racists and extremists."

"The job of the Department of Defense is to keep America safe from our enemies," Austin said. "But we can't do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks."

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