The Senate confirmed Jeh Johnson as the Secretary of Homeland Security yesterday, giving a permanent head to the department after the departure of Janet Napolitano earlier this year when she stepped down to become the president of the University of California.
“As we all know, the President has asked Jeh Johnson to take on a difficult and demanding job,” said Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, in a statement. “Fortunately, for our nation, he is a strong leader and well-prepared to face the challenges that await him.”
Johnson served as general counsel for both the Air Force and the Department of Defense, where he provided advice to secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta during their terms of service. He received bipartisan support and letters from former government officials, including DHS secretaries Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff, and Janet Napolitano, who submitted a joint letter to Carper in November showing their support.
“[Johnson’s] service at the highest levels of the U.S. Department of Defense, the largest government agency in the world, provided him a keen understanding of and the logistics required to successfully execute large-scale, operational missions of varying complexity and purpose,” their letter reads. “[We] believe that Mr. Johnson’s abilities and experiences will not only continue the important effort the Department of Homeland Security is charged with, but build on the progress made over the last 10 years to combat an ever evolving threat, and make our communities more resilient.”
Johnson was confirmed by a vote of 78 to 16 and is the fourth secretary of the department, which is the third largest in the federal government and was established in March 2003.