Senate confirms new DHS secretary
- By Mark Rockwell
- Dec 17, 2013
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.
Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.
Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.
Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.
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