On Tuesday, the Senate confirmed the White House chief of staff Kirstjen Nielsen to be the next Department of Homeland Security Secretary.
The Senate voted 62-37 to appoint Nielsen to lead the DHS.
Senate Majority Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that Nielsen is a talented “qualified candidate.”
“With her understanding of the challenges facing our nation and her experience in prevention and preparedness, I believe that she will excel as the next Secretary of Homeland Security,” said McConnell.
House Judiciary Republican Chairman Bob Goodlatte expressed similar sentiments and said that Nielsen has “the expertise and leadership needed to successfully run the Department.”
10 Democratic senators and the Independent Sen. Angus King also agreed and voted in favor of Nielsen’s appointment.
President Donald Trump nominated Nielsen in October and will be the first confirmed DHS secretary after John Kelly left to be Trump’s chief of Staff in July.
Since then, Elaine Duke has been the acting DHS secretary.
“Ms. Nielsen is a homeland security expert with a deep understanding of the issues facing the Department and is well-positioned to lead us into the future,” said Duke in a statement Tuesday. “It has been an honor to serve as the Department’s Acting Secretary, and I look forward to working alongside Ms. Nielsen as her deputy as we continue to carry out the DHS mission of safeguarding the American people, our homeland, and our values.”
Nielsen has inherited some challenges with her new role, but McConnell believes she is prepared to develop the solutions needed to these ongoing problems.
“By confirming Ms. Nielsen’s nomination to lead the DHS, this Senate will take a serious step to strengthen our nation’s security. Ms. Nielsen will be charged with leading the department at a critical time,” said McConnell on the Senate floor Tuesday. “Her leadership will also help in providing continued assistance to the men and women still suffering from the effects of the recent natural disasters in our country. Our nation faces myriad threats, and I look forward to working with Ms. Nielsen to address each of them.”
The DHS is leading the efforts when it comes to Trump’s immigration agenda.
Nielsen will be in charge of over 240,000 employees working in immigration enforcement, airport and border security, natural disaster response, and cyber security.
Although 10 Democrats voted to appoint Nielson, there are still others with concerns about her confirmation.
“Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said Nielsen has played a role in several questionable Trump administration decisions, including a travel ban to restrict entry from six mostly Muslim countries, termination of a program for young immigrants and what Harris called a “feeble response to Hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey. “Harris also said she was troubled by Nielsen’s failure to acknowledge at her confirmation hearing how human behavior contributes to climate change,” writes CBS News.
Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson believes Nielsen lacks the qualifications to lead the DHS and said that she has not demonstrated that “she has the ability to lead a workforce of 240,000 while keeping the country safe and secure.”
Mimicking past concerns of Democratic Sen. Tom Carper who asked, “Why should we believe that, as smart as you are, and as well-spoken as you are, that someone who, as far as I know, never led an organization of even 100 people, much less 240,000, is ready to take on this responsibility?” at her confirmation hearing.
But Nielsen has had experience in working in the organization before, specifically in the DHS Transportation Security Administration. She also served on the White House Homeland Security Council under the George W. Bush Administration.
Author’s note: Nielson got more than enough bipartisan votes, proving that Senators in all parties believe she is a good fit. Again, she is taking on a job that won’t be easy, especially with the controversy around Trump’s immigration policy.