Senate confirms Trump's pick to lead Department of Homeland Security

By Ray Downs  |  Dec. 5, 2017 at 8:09 PM
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Dec. 5 (UPI) -- The Senate confirmed President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security Tuesday, nearly two months after John Kelly left the agency to be the president's chief of staff.

Kirstjen Nielsen, a top White House aide considered to be a cybersecurity expert, will now lead the DHS. The Senate confirmed her nomination 62-37, with 10 Democrats joining the Republican majority.

"By confirming Ms. Nielsen's nomination to lead the DHS, this Senate will take a serious step to strengthen our nation's security," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a statement. "Ms. Nielsen will be charged with leading the department at a critical time. 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."

Although several Democrats voted to confirm Nielsen, some expressed concern over the 45-year-old's experience level.

"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?" Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., asked during the confirmation hearing, according to The Hill.

And in a statement released after the Senate confirmed Nielsen, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif, who voted against Nielsen's nomination, criticized her stances on immigration and the environment, as well as her experience.

"She has equivocated on protecting Dreamers and overlooked reports of DHS' management failures," Harris said. "She has yet to acknowledge the overwhelming scientific consensus that human behavior contributes to climate change, even as states like California face the increasing threats of wildfires, floods, and rising sea levels. And as a top official in the Trump White House and at DHS, Nielsen has not demonstrated the independent judgment necessary to lead one of our nation's most critical law enforcement and national security agencies."

The Washington Post reported Trump nominated Nielsen largely based on Kelly's advice and she has never led a federal agency or private company.

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