Ronald D. Vitiello, President Trump’s nominee to head the embattled U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, will likely not get a confirmation vote on the Senate floor for at least two months, despite being favorably reported by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee this week.
According to congressional documents and staffers, the agreement governing Vitiello’s renomination in the 116th Congress specifies it shall be “sequentially referred to the Committee on the Judiciary for not more than 60 calendar days.” That effectively gives the Judiciary committee two months to consider Vitiello’s nomination and means a floor vote before May 10 is extremely unlikely.
The nomination was supported by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on a 7-5 vote. Former Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del) joined six of the eight Republicans in voting yes. GOP maverick Rand Paul (R-Ky) joined four of the six Democrats in voting no.
Neither freshman Kirsten Sinema (D-Ariz) nor former Bush 43 official Rob Portman (R-Ohio) attended Monday’s business meeting and neither furnished a proxy, meaning they effectively abstained.
A spokesman for the Senate Judiciary Committee did not respond to questions about how they intended to proceed. But news of the delay will be another blow to Vitiello’s supporters, who have been pushing for his confirmation since he was first nominated Aug. 6 last year. Even though he is acting director, his backers argue that the absence of senate confirmation hamstrings his leadership at a vital moment for the agency as it finds itself in the crucible of partisan fire over the administration’s controversial immigration and border security policies.