Yesterday, Rep. Pramila Jayapal was acting chair of a House Judiciary Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee meeting at which former ICE Director Tom Homan was testifying. Republican Rep. Andy Biggs offered Homan some of his time to respond to “anything” he had heard during the lengthy hearing. Homan took the opportunity to address comments made by Rep. Jayapal.
“I’d like to respond to acting chairman Jayapal and your comment about the Trump Administration moving money around for more detention beds,” Homan said. He continued, “I’d like to remind you under the Obama Administration we did that most of the years he was president. We moved money around DHS, it’s called reprogramming. We did that under the Obama Administration and I don’t remember any hearings on that.
“And also, I’d like to remind you that under the Obama Administration, I mean you’re quick to point out, the cages were built under the Obama Administration. I was there. Family detention, we had 100 family beds under the Obama Administration, we built 3,000 more. So when there was a surge in FY-14, FY-15 on the border, Congress was quick to give all the money we needed the detention facilities, transportation contracts. We reprogrammed money the majority of the years he was president. That was fine.”
When Homan was finished, Rep. Jayapal replied, “Since you addressed some comments at me I’ll just say that I didn’t like it under the Obama administration either.”
“But being honest with the American people,” Homan interjected.
“Excuse me,” Jayapal said, banging her gavel.
“You can’t point out faults in the Trump administration when it happened under the Obama administration,” Homan said as Jayapal banged the gavel again.
“That’s dishonesty,” Homan said. Bang!
“It’s pathetic and it’s sad,” Homan concluded.
Rep. Jayapal then reminded Homan that he had testified in favor of an Obama administration border effort in 2016.
“May I respond to that?” Homan asked.
“No, you may not,” Jayapal replied.
“Of course not,” Homan said.
And that’s just a warm-up to what happens in the second half of this clip. Rep. Jayapal asked Homan to “respect the chair’s authority” and when he interrupted again and called the hearing a “circus” she shouted his name and slammed the gavel down repeatedly.
The cynical part of me thinks Homan is doing this, at least in part, because Corey Lewandowski got favorable reviews from the White House for not showing much respect for his congressional interrogators at a recent hearing. Homan did appear on Fox & Friends this morning to recount his appearance.
On the other hand, the Democrats’ treatment of ICE, including claims that detention centers are “concentration camps,” has made this such a partisan circus that it’s impossible to fault Homan for saying so. Rep. Jayapal, it should be noted, was the co-sponsor of an “Abolish ICE” bill last year, so that may be one reason there appears to be no love lost here on either side.
Below is the highlight reel. If you want to see where these clips fit into the full hearing, you can view the whole thing here.