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Lawmakers clashed as Democrats again accused Republicans of being racist for focusing committee hearings on the southern border crisis.
The second hearing for the Oversight Committee in the 118th Congress on Tuesday zeroed-in on handling of migration at the southern border – it was the second hearing focusing on the migration crisis, coming just one week after the Judiciary hearing on the same topic.
Chairman James Comer of Kentucky defended the hearing, noting that the powerful Oversight Committee’s job is to make sure Congress is addressing issues properly, and that the hearing Tuesday is the first time the panel is hearing from government workers responsible for securing the border.
Republicans said that while Biden ‘won’t talk about the crisis at our southern border’ during Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address, the Oversight Committee would address it in their hearing earlier in the day.
Democrats, however, accused the GOP-led hearing of ‘amplifying white nationalism.’
Representative Byron Donalds of Florida, a black Republican, tore into Democrats for claiming that the Oversight Committee hearing Tuesday on the southern border crisis ‘amplifies white nationalist conspiracy theories’
Chairman James Comer of Kentucky brought attention to the Democrats’ tweet making accusations of ‘white nationalist conspiracy theories’
‘Good morning and good luck to everyone except GOP Oversight members who 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,’ Oversight Democrats tweeted Tuesday.
Representative Byron Donalds of Florida cut into the usual procedure of the hearing because he wanted to respond after Representative Comer read the tweet out loud and bashed it as being ‘out of decorum’ of the congressional rules.
‘I’m just going to cut to the chase,’ said Donalds, who is black. ‘For my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who want to state that we’re using this hearing for White Nationalism, I’m not doing that.’
‘So, if you feel that strongly, come walk to this side of the room and let’s talk about it face-to-face,’ he urged. ‘But leave that kind of silly stuff for somebody else. Don’t bring that here today. This stuff is serious.’
The back-and-forth came after Democrats on the Judiciary Committee made the same claims of racism during their first hearing of the new Congress on Wednesday.
‘The first hearing will showcase the racist tendencies of the extreme MAGA Republican wing of the party that seeks to close the border to refugees from places like Cuba and Venezuela,’ Judiciary Ranking Member Nadler noted in his opening remarks last week.
‘It almost makes me miss their usual obsession with conspiracy theories and the FBI,’ he quipped.
‘I suspect this hearing is also an attempt to distract from the fact that Republicans have failed to pass any meaningful legislation in their first month in the majority.’
Ranking Democrat Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland accused the GOP of not engaging in real oversight of the crisis at the border
Chairman James Comer of Kentucky sharply rebuked this claim, noting that the hearing Tuesday is ‘the first time since Joe Biden’s been president that anyone representing the border has been asked to come before this committee’
Republican freshman Representative Wesley Hunt of Texas rebuffed this claim.
The black lawmaker said Democrats too often use racism as a ‘scapegoat.’
‘I’ve been black for a long time, sir, so I get it,’ Hunt said during questioning of El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego after he suggested the term ‘invasion’ is racist.
‘I’ve been a minority in this country for a very long time,’ Hunt said. ‘But this is actually not about race, this is actually an issue of public safety.’
The House Oversight and Accountability Committee is stacked with high-profile lawmakers on both the Republican and Democrat side of the aisle.
This includes progressive freshman Representative Maxwell Frost, who had a cordial conversation with Chairman Comer ahead of the hearing, and several far-right hardline immigration lawmakers like Representative Marjorie Taylor Green of Georgia, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Andy Biggs of Arizona.
Comer echoed the message of several other Republicans in Congress by claiming Biden and Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas have sent the message that ‘our borders are open.’
Figures released for December show that the number of encounters at the southern border are continuing to rise – and reached a new all-time single month high of 251,487
Democratic Ranking Member Jamie Raskin of Maryland, donning a bandana due to hair loss from cancer treatment, tore into Republicans for not holding hearings on the humanitarian crisis at the border when former President Donald Trump was in office – and when reports emerged of children and their parents being separated after crossing illegally.
‘Rather than work with Democrats on these efforts, the MAGA forces in the GOP have chosen to abandon the strong pro-immigration stance of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan and instead spread fear about a foreign ‘invasion,’ dangerous paranoia about the racist and anti-Semitic Great Replacement mythology and disinformation about fentanyl, the vast majority of which is brought into our country by American smugglers working for the international drug cartels,’ Raskin alleged.
‘This hearing will become a chance to search for bipartisan agreement rather than another missed opportunity by committee Republicans to join with us in conducting meaningful oversight towards comprehensive reform, turning this into more bad political theater will just extend the long pattern of failure on this question,’ he continued in opening remarks.
‘For years, Republicans on this committee refused to conduct oversight of President Trump’s disastrous and cruel border policies. They were silent in 2019 when the U.S. Customs and Border Protection declared a humanitarian crisis at the border.’
Raskin said that Republicans aren’t actually seeking to engage in the real purpose of the Oversight panel.
But Comer denounced this classification.
‘The Republicans’ lack of Oversight?’ the chairman questioned. ‘I want to remind everyone this is the first time since Joe Biden’s been president that anyone representing the border has been asked to come before this committee – the first time.’
‘This crisis has gotten worse every day over two years – this is the first time,’ he added.
The two witnesses for the hearing Tuesday are Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Patrol Agent Floria Chavez and Tucson Sector Chief Patrol Agent John Modlin.
Source: DailyMail UK