Republican Senators blasted government officials on Wednesday for obstructing members of Congress from visiting facilities where unaccompanied minors were being held.
During a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee hearing, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) blasted Heath and Human Services official Mark Greenberg for denying access to his Oklahoma colleague Rep. Jim Bridenstine from visiting a facility earlier this month.
“I think you made a grievous error in denying Congressman Bridenstine access to the facility,” Coburn said, calling the action “illegal.”
“I think it was illegal to keep a member of Congress from visiting one of these camps, regardless if they come at 3:00 in the morning, they should have access,” he said.
Greenberg asserted that Bridenstine was denied access to the facility because he didn’t schedule a tour, and that they would be happy to make arrangements provided that the proper tour guides were in place.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was angered that he was not allowed to bring his cell phone while visiting a facility and wasn’t allowed to visit with staff or children in the facility.
FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate lamented that the unaccompanied minors who were initially detained by the federal government were clearly suffering before his agency was allowed to help with the border crisis.
Fugate said that Americans should remember that the children were all “somebody’s child” and should be treated with compassion.
Fugate defended President Obama’s funding request to properly care for the children, particularly for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Fugate’s remarks drew a response from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) who pointed out that it was also important to stop the children from entering the country in the first place.