Homeland Security

Senate confirms new DHS secretary

Jeh Johnson

Key lawmakers welcomed the confirmation of Jeh Johnson, the newly approved head of the Department of Homeland Security, and hope his ascension marks a turning point in filling a depleted roster of bosses at DHS.

The Senate confirmed Johnson the evening of Dec. 16 on a vote of 78-16. Johnson will be the fourth DHS secretary, filling the vacancy left by Janet Napolitano, who left in September to become president of the University of California System. Johnson, the former general counsel for the Defense Department, was nominated by President Barack Obama in October.

Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) lauded the confirmation and said Johnson's confirmation could be a critical step in filling chronic vacancies in several other top management positions at the department.

"I have been concerned for many months about the high number of senior level vacancies at DHS. In fact, the department has been without a Senate-confirmed deputy secretary since April and without a Senate confirmed secretary since early September," Carper said.

Other crucial vacancies include the heads of Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as the inspector general’s post, Carper said. 

Carper’s House counterpart echoed his sentiments.

"Mr. Johnson must tackle the alarming number of vacancies in DHS’s top ranks, and I was pleased to hear that finally filling this leadership void will be one of his top priorities," House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), said in a statement following the Senate vote.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a staff writer covering acquisition, procurement and homeland security. Contact him at mrockwell@fcw.com or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.

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