Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has agreed to testify next month about border security issues following a threatened subpoena, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) announced Monday.
The announcement comes as Democrats, now in control of the House, step up congressional oversight of the Trump administration, and border security remains one of the bitterest policy fights between Democrats and the Republican administration.
“We are giving the Secretary ample time to prepare for this appearance,” Thompson said in a statement. “She should be ready to defend the Administration’s border security actions and its plans to improve its border security agenda going forward. As Chairman of the Committee, I remain committed to the charge that securing the country should be based on intelligence and facts, and not pursuant to a campaign agenda.”
The latter was a reference to President Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion in funding for his long-promised U.S.-Mexico border wall, which led to a 35-day partial government shutdown as congressional Democrats resisted.
In a blistering letter to Nielsen last week, Thompson said it was “outrageous” that she was pointing to the shutdown as an “excuse” not to voluntarily appear before the committee.
“If she says she’s not coming, we’ll subpoena her to the committee,” Thompson said in an interview with The Washington Post at the time. “We need to hear from her. If border security is important, we need to hear her vision.”
In a statement Monday, Rep. Mike D. Rogers (Ala.), the top Republican on the committee, praised Thompson for deciding to work with Nielsen to arrange voluntary testimony for March 6.
“Chairman Thompson’s decision to cooperate with Secretary Nielsen to find a time to testify was the right one and is consistent with the committee’s constitutional mandate to conduct oversight over DHS,” Rogers said.