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DHS Nominee Faces Potential Hold Over Border Security

Jeh Johnson grilled by senators as critics maintain the lawyer and Democratic Party activist doesn’t carry the credentials for the job.

Bill Straub


November 13, 2013 - 5:07 pm
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WASHINGTON – Jeh Johnson’s path toward serving as secretary of Homeland Security encountered turbulence on Wednesday with one lawmaker threatening to block consideration of his nomination and another vowing to oppose him unless his questions get an answer.

Johnson, the former general counsel in the Department of Defense and President Obama’s choice to replace Janet Napolitano at the agency, told lawmakers at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security Committee that he will bring a sense of “transparency and candor” to the office and cited the 9-11 terrorist attacks of 2001 as a stimulating force.

“September 11 changed millions of us, it changed me, and it motivates me to answer this call to lead the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security,” Johnson said.

But Johnson encountered almost immediate opposition from a pair of GOP lawmakers. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) repeated his promise to block every Obama administration nominee until he and the rest of Congress are provided with additional information about the Benghazi terrorist attack of September 2012, which led to the death of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans.

And Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) indicated he will withhold his support and place a hold on the nomination unless Johnson provides details on how he intends to make the nation’s southern border with Mexico 90 percent secure.

“I am not asking for your inclination,” McCain said. “We have our responsibilities here and one of them is to have a secure border. And unless we get the right information from you and your bureaucracy, we’re not able to ascertain how we can secure our border.”

Johnson said he is inclined to provide McCain with the information he seeks but he will first have to consult with the administration.

Regardless, several panel members – including Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), the committee’s ranking member — expressed the expectation that Johnson ultimately will survive the confirmation rigors. All three department secretaries who preceded Johnson — Republicans Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff and Democrat Janet Napolitano – signed a letter endorsing Johnson.

Johnson’s nomination, as with most of President Obama’s choices for high positions within the administration, has proved rocky from the outset, with critics maintaining the partner in a high-powered New York law firm and Democratic Party activist doesn’t carry the credentials necessary for the job.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) has proved particularly critical of Johnson, characterizing him as a “political hack” during an appearance on Fox News.

“I would have liked to have had a guy who was not sort of on-the-job training, somebody that immediately could come in, command respect and stature,” McCaul said.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) acknowledged he has “grave concerns” about the Johnson nomination, joining McCain in questioning his ability to secure the border.

“Rather than selecting someone who knows the unique dynamics of our Southern border, President Obama has tapped one of his former New York fundraisers,” Cornyn said. “We need someone who knows how to secure the border, not dial for dollars.”

Johnson has served in an advisory capacity in a few presidential campaigns and as a fundraiser. He was special counsel to John Kerry, the former senator and current secretary of State, during his unsuccessful presidential run in 2004. He also was an early Obama supporter, serving as a member of his national finance committee.

Despite the detractors, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the committee chairman, praised Obama’s choice, asserting that his prior governmental experience establishes that he is “prepared to face the challenges that will await him if he is confirmed by the Senate. For four years, he was a major player in running the Defense Department. He provided key advice to two exceptional Defense Secretaries — Bob Gates and Leon Panetta — giving him invaluable experience for the huge task to which he has been nominated.”

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“As I speak, the department of government charged with the vital mission of homeland security has no secretary, no deputy secretary and a number of other senior positions are vacant,” Johnson said. “If confirmed as secretary, my immediate priority, starting the day I take the oath, will be to work with the White House and the Senate to fill the remainder of these key leadership positions.”

Enough reason not to confirm him. More Democrats, more waste, more fraud, more corruption. Why is it that a Washingtonian who simply brushes against the POTUS at some shindig and says, 'Pardon me' somehow blossoms into a close personal advisor of the POTUS with access to the secret chambers of government when they come before a committee to be approved?

Just wondering.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Oh, please. This guy is as qualified to be Secretary of Homeland Security as Obama is qualified to be POTUS.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So Johnson is "INCLINED" to provide McCain with the information he seeks? Will he also be "INCLINED" to lie his butt off when things go south for him and he has to stand in front of a Congressional panel to explain. I'm totally against political hacks like Johnson being in positions of great responsibility. What are his plans to secure the Southern border? Does he have any idea where the Southern border actually is? I'm sure that in a country of 300+ million people we can do better then this 0bama toady.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One more would-be-(could-be) felon gets the job of a lifetime eh? Whats the problem?

These Zero supporters are in the bonus round and mean to cash in on their experiences in government. Consulting and lobbying pays off big time. And that is what low-lifes like this are lining up for. And its what we've come to expect from this lying and spying administration.

I'd be disappointed if Zero had actually nominated someone for the job that had the necessary credentials to perform the job. Worried actually! But I shouldn't have - his picks are all lower on the food-chain than Feckless Won and for good reason. No not-so-smart CEO ever picks those closest to him that have more smarts. It does make for interesting picks - Kerry at State - Hagel at Defense. You know the list as well as I.

A country is only as good as the brain trust behind it - we are totally screwed!

1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
five years into corruption, graft, greed, and a total abandonment of our laws, and another crooked lawyer tells us he will bring transparency and candor? one would think they could at least come up with some new lies. no answers to Benghazi or anything else, just more promises. how pathetic. from one screwup (0-care) to the next great idea of letting a failure of a 3rd world country overrun our borders and insist they come and get all sorts of free stuff. but now we will fix it. lol

and what's up w/ mcain? he finally find his med's, or his backbone? 2 little 2 late either way.

this would make a good comedy special if it weren't happening for real. if somebody had said, 'let's find the most corrupt, devious, lying, drug addled fraud on earth and make him president of the richest, most powerful and technologically developed country in the world and see how long it takes him to destroy it', would people have said 'yeah, great idea'? and yet, here we are swirling round and round the toilet.

road sign ahead: you have just entered the twilight zone.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Johnson said he is inclined to provide McCain with the information he seeks..."

"Inclined?" Really? What a relief. I'd gotten so used to the "screw you, Congress" tactics of Sibelius, Holder, Obama, Clinton, Kerry et al, that for a second I thought we might get nothing.

By the way, I once gave $20 an animal shelter here. They oughtta make me Secretary of the Interior.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This whole administration, from the top to bottom, is made up of political hacks. What they lack in competence they make up for in corruption. Not one of these people are competent enough to hold a job in a small city government.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
He's got one job, to see that border security laws do not get enforced and that illegals are signed up for benefits and registered to vote Demoncrat as soon as possible. For that, he's eminently qualified.

In any noncriminal administration, he would not even come up for consideration.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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