Grayer or Not, Likely This Time to Be Confirmed

Monday, September 10, 2007

Julie L. Myers is back before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday for her second confirmation hearing in three years. The last time she sat before the committee, things got . . . well, a bit hairy.

Myers had been nominated to run Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and she was accused of lacking the experience necessary to oversee the sprawling agency. She was also called too young -- she was 36 -- and was criticized for what some saw as potential cronyism: She is the niece of retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was engaged to the chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, Myers's prospective boss. (They have since married; her husband is now U.S. attorney for Kansas City, Mo.)

One of her harshest critics was Sen. George V. Voinovich (R-Ohio), who told Myers that he wanted to hear Chertoff explain "why he thinks you're qualified for the job, because based on the r?sum?, I don't think you are."

"I realize that I'm not 80 years old," Myers replied to Voinovich. "I have a few gray hairs, more coming, but I will seek to work with those who are knowledgeable in this area who know more than I do."

Voinovich eventually voted for Myers's confirmation, but she was held up on a procedural matter until President Bush used a recess appointment in January 2006 to install her in charge of ICE.

Her tenure has included raids by the agency on businesses employing illegal immigrants, charges that U.S. authorities have mistreated illegal immigrants in prisons and jails nationwide, and reports of low job satisfaction among her subordinates. She is expected to be confirmed this time around, no matter how gray her hair might have gotten.

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