The PJ Tatler

Senate Confirms New Homeland Security Overseer

The Senate easily confirmed President Obama’s pick to replace Janet Napolitano as the head of the Department of Homeland Security.

Jeh Johnson’s nomination passed yesterday 78-16, with six senators not voting.

“Fortunately, for our nation, he is a strong leader and well-prepared to face the challenges that await him,” Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) said. “I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for quickly confirming this critical nomination. He brings experience from the public and private sectors, as well as an impeccable character.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), though, said Johnson was “not a good choice.”

Sessions had previously grilled Johnson about immigration and not found his answers or his experience satisfactory.

“I am pleased the Senate has confirmed Jeh Johnson as our next Secretary of Homeland Security with broad bipartisan support,” Obama said in a statement. “In Jeh, our dedicated homeland security professionals will have a strong leader with a deep understanding of the threats we face and a proven ability to work across agencies and complex organizations to keep America secure. Jeh has been a critical member of my national security team, and he helped to shape some of our most successful national security policies and strategies.”

“As Secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh will play a leading role in our efforts to protect the homeland against terrorist attacks, adapt to changing threats, stay prepared for natural disasters, strengthen our border security, and make our immigration system fairer – while upholding the values, civil liberties, and laws that make America great,” he added. “I look forward to Jeh’s counsel and sound judgment for years to come.”

With the nuclear option in place, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is trying to plow through nominations before the end of the year. Republicans have been using up allotted debate time on some nominees in protest.

“Last week was difficult for the entire Senate community. When cooperation is lacking, as it was last week, completing the business before this body becomes much more difficult,” Reid said on the floor Monday. “…Although we accomplished a great deal, the process was neither easy nor pleasant. This week, the Senate has just as much to achieve as it did last week.”

“…The Senate must also confirm Janet Yellen to head the Federal Reserve, Alejandro Mayorkas to be Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security and John Koskinen to lead the Internal Revenue Service. The nominations of Judge Robert Wilkins’ to be a member of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and of Brian Davis of Florida to be a district court judge are also priorities.  Mr. Davis’ nomination has been pending for two years. The Senate must also move quickly to confirm Sarah Sewall as under secretary of state, Jessica Wright to be under secretary for readiness at the Defense Department, Sarah Bloom Raskin to be the second in command at the Treasury Department, Mike Connor to be second in command at the Interior Department, Sloane Gibson to be deputy at the Veterans Affairs Department and Rick Engler to the Chemical Safety Board.”

Today the Senate takes up the Ryan-Murray budget and tomorrow it will take up the defense reauthorization bill.