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Senators criticize Borras DHS appointment

Senators criticize Borras DHS appointment

   Two Republican senators on Friday criticized the recess appointment of Rafael Borras as under secretary of management at the Department of Homeland Security.

Borras

   Borras was one of 15 people appointed by President Obama while Congress was out of session at the end of March. The White House said bypassing the Senate's responsibility to confirm high-level political appointees was necessary because Congress had taken too long to approve them, which it mostly blamed on stalling tactics by individual Republicans.

   Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and George Voinovich of Ohio said Borras did not meet the qualifications for his DHS post. Under the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, a nominee for under secretary of management must have significant executive-level experience managing large, complex organizations, and a proven record of achieving positive operational results.

   'While Mr. Borras’ commitment to public service is admirable, his experience falls far short of the statutory requirements for the position. Moreover, his numerous tax errors on his federal income tax filings show a troubling lack of attention to detail and a pattern of carelessness. Although Mr. Borras may have been qualified for another appointment in this administration, his recess appointment to this vital DHS post is regrettable,' the senators said in a statement.

   Both opposed Borras' nomination in the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee last fall. They criticized the Democratic leadership for not scheduling a floor vote to approve Borras while the Senate was in session.

   Borras was vice president of construction services for URS Corp.'s mid-Atlantic region and a former regional director at the General Services Administration.

   Collins, considered a moderate within the Republican caucus, expressed concern last October that Borras lacked the experience to manage 200,000 employees, a $50 billion budget, expensive procurement contracts and interagency coordination at an organization already plagued by fraud, waste and mismanagement.

   Borras managed a staff of about 100 people at URS.

   Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, previously criticized the administration's decision to install two appointees, Alan Bersin as head of Customs and Border Protection and Jeffrey Goldstein as Treasury under secretary, who were still in the process of being reviewed by the Senate Finance Committee.

   'It shows a lot of disregard for the Senate's advise-and-consent role to bypass not just the full Senate, but also the committee of jurisdiction that was in the middle of vetting the nominees in its jurisdiction,' he said.

   The committee was seeking answers from Goldstein about his work at a private equity firm with ties to the Cayman Islands and from Bersin about whether he had proper employment verification documentation for household help. The inquiry was being conducted on a bipartisan basis and was not part of a Republican political strategy, Grassley insisted. ' Eric Kulisch

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