By a vote of 62-37, Senate lawmakers confirmed Kirstjen Nielsen to become the sixth secretary of Homeland Security, and the first with prior experience at the department.
Nielsen formerly headed the offices of Legislative Policy and Government Affairs at the Transportation Security Administration before serving as former Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s chief of staff. She left DHS to follow Kelly to the White House to be his principal deputy after President Trump tapped him for the role of White House chief of staff.
In returning to DHS, Nielsen will be responsible for implementing many of Trump’s highest priorities, including building a wall along the border with Mexico and enforcing a travel ban and stepped up vetting for visitors from countries deemed by the administration to pose a high security risk.
At her Nov. 8 confirmation hearing, Nielsen said reforming the hiring process and retaining high performers would be “at the top of my priority list.” She also vowed to couple accountability with rewards for good work and said she would solicit feedback from front line and field employees to address the concerns of workers.
“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 Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke in a statement.
Also on Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Emily Murphy to lead the General Services Administration. Murphy, a Capitol Hill veteran and respected Republican staffer, will bring deep experience in procurement, technology and small-business policy to the job, though she has never managed a large staff.