The US Senate UU He voted on Tuesday to confirm Kirstjen M. Nielsen as the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, installing a close confidant of the White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly to head the huge federal agency responsible for carrying out many of the President Trump's more ambitious domestic policy plans.
Nielsen, 45, developed a reputation for intense devotion to Kelly as his deputy in the White House, and before that as his chief of staff in the Department of Homeland Security, who led from January through July.
Nielsen, a lawyer and cybersecurity expert, will be the first DHS secretary with previous experience working in the agency. His confirmation on Tuesday gives the White House a DHS chief well versed in the policy and political objectives of Trump's immigration agenda.
"By confirming Ms. Nielsen's nomination to lead DHS, this Senate will take a serious step to strengthen the security of our nation," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Said in a statement. .
"Ms. Nielsen will be in charge of running the department at a critical time," he said. "With her understanding of the challenges facing our nation and her experience in prevention and preparedness, I believe she will stand out as the next Secretary of Homeland Security."
Nielsen was confirmed 62 to 37, the narrowest margin ever approved by a DHS Secretary. Although no Republican Senate sided with her, the result reflected both intense opposition to Trump and doubts about Nielsen's executive leadership experience and willingness to challenge the White House in case of disagreement.
Last month, a surveillance group filed an ethics complaint against Nielsen, after she used a private consultant representing clients with millions of dollars in DHS contracts to help her navigate the confirmation process .
In January, shortly after Trump took office, the senators confirmed Kelly 88-11.
Nielsen comes to work mainly because of the power of his support. She will replace Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, who held the highest position temporarily for more than four months, more than any DHS chief in the agency's 15-year history.
Duke was confirmed as undersecretary of DHS in April, but she has no close relationship with Nielsen, and several administration officials say Duke has informed the White House that he plans to resign once Nielsen takes over. DHS has denied that Duke plans to resign.
One of the Democrats who voted against Nielsen, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Said she was concerned about the independence of the new secretary. "Throughout her confirmation process, Ms. Nielsen could not demonstrate that she would provide constant and experienced leadership – without the White House's political interference – that the department needs."
As the lead DHS lead officer, an agency with discretionary budgets of $ 40 billion and 240,000 employees, Nielsen will be responsible for a wide range of responsibilities. DHS has 22 subagencies, which include everything from immigration compliance, transportation safety, disaster preparedness and response to the Secret Service and the Coast Guard.
"There will be no job training for Kirstjen," Trump said when he announced his nomination in October, praising his "excellent reputation."
Nielsen never held the highest position in a federal agency or private sector company.
At the beginning of his career he worked in the Transportation Security Administration and later as Blanca. House advisor for emergency preparedness and disaster management under President George W. Bush. During her confirmation hearing, she told the senators that she learned key lessons about emergency management by taking a seat in the front row before the failed response to Hurricane Katrina.
Nielsen went through his confirmation hearing last month before members of the Senate Committee on National Security and Government Affairs, assuring lawmakers that he would not obey an illegal White House order.
When asked for his opinion on the usefulness of a border wall with Mexico, he echoed comments made earlier by Kelly that the United States did not need a physical barrier of 2,000 miles "from the sea to the bright sea."