House Chairman Sounds Alarm Over Homeland Security Vacancies

“Some claim that Senate gridlock has played a role in delaying nominations,” Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, said. “But this has not been a major factor. " “Some claim that Senate gridlock has played a role in delaying nominations,” Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, said. “But this has not been a major factor. " Harry Cabluck/AP file photo

The 40 percent vacancy rate at the top echelons of the Homeland Security Department prompted a severe critique on Monday from Rep. Mike McCaul, R-Texas, who wrote that “nearly half of the top positions at the third-largest agency in the U.S. government aren’t filled -- a problem that has impaired its operations and speaks volumes about this administration’s commitment to homeland security.”

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed titled “Nobody’s Home at Homeland Security,” the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said filling the empty slots should be the top priority of President Obama’s recent nominee to lead the 10-year-old department, Jeh Johnson.

“Some claim that Senate gridlock has played a role in delaying nominations,” McCaul said. “But this has not been a major factor. For many of these positions, including the inspector general and commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, the president has taken many months or years to nominate someone.” Obama, the chairman continued, has “shown a complete disregard” for the 1998 Federal Vacancy Reform Act.

McCaul cited problems with having an acting leader at Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and cited as “the most dire leadership vacancy” the lack of long-term management running DHS’ cyber and national security protections.

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