Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 23, 2014

Obama Announces DHS Nomination; Some Republicans Already Critical

Even as President Barack Obama formally announced his intent to nominate former Pentagon General Counsel Jeh Johnson as Homeland Security secretary, the pick faced some GOP skepticism.

Obama called Johnson “an outstanding public servant who I’ve known and trusted for years” in a Friday afternoon announcement in the Rose Garden.

“From the moment I took office, Jeh was an absolutely critical member of my national security team, and he demonstrated again and again the qualities that will make him a strong secretary of Homeland Security,” Obama said. “Jeh has a deep understanding of the threats and challenges facing the United States.”

But Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn of Texas expressed “grave concerns” about a nominee without significant experience in the law enforcement community.

“Texas represents the largest portion of our Southern border — an area that has seen an increase of violence, drug trafficking and illegal crossings. Rather than selecting someone who knows the unique dynamics of our Southern border, President Obama has tapped one of his former New York fundraisers,” Cornyn said in a statement. “We need someone who knows how to secure the border, not dial for dollars.”

And Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., one of the most vocal critics of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration plan, used word of the nomination to once again blast the administration’s approach to immigration enforcement, including the deferred action policy for individuals who came to the U.S. as children.

“This nomination should focus the attention of the Congress and the country on the open refusal of DHS political appointees to impartially execute their law enforcement mission,” Sessions said.

Others were far more positive.
“Mr. Johnson brings a wealth of experience from the Department of Defense, and I am eager to meet with him and discuss his vision for the Department of Homeland Security. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Committee to consider his nomination in a thorough and timely manner,” Sen. Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., said in a statement issued when word of the Johnson nomination circulated Thursday.

Carper, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, was one of several lawmakers noting the high vacancy rate in senior positions at the DHS. House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, also noted the number of vacancies in senior roles at the department.

“Even with this prospective nominee, over 40 percent of senior leadership positions at DHS are either vacant or have an ‘acting’ placeholder. The lack of leadership at the White House is reflected in the holes in leadership at the Department, and these important positions must be filled in order to fill the holes in our homeland security,” McCaul said.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy called the vacancies at the DHS “a disservice to the American people.”

“Jeh Johnson possesses many qualifications needed to lead the Department, and I intend to raise with him many of the Judiciary Committee’s priorities,” the Vermont Democrat said in a statement.

The Department of Homeland Security is a sprawling collection of federal agencies that were merged together in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. While certainly a coincidence, Johnson noted that his birthday falls on the 11th of September and that he was in Manhattan on the day the two hijacked airliners took down the World Trade Center towers 12 years ago.

“When that bright and beautiful day … was shattered by the largest terrorist attack on our homeland in history, I wander the streets of New York that day and wondered and asked, ‘What can I do?’” Johnson said.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., had pushed the White House both publicly and privately to choose another New Yorker for the job: police commissioner Ray Kelly. A Kelly nomination would have set up a battle over the NYPD’s “stop-and-frisk” policy, however.

  • BARRACUDA

    obozo is waiting for the right slave to follow his orders to the letter and start preparing the “national defense army” to execute his obsession to crushed any American who opposes his regime, this ties with the effort to disarm law abiding citizens of weapons and passing unlawful immigration laws to fill the roles of neighborhood enforcers, all ties together, keep your eyes and ears open, the dictator is ready for the big push

  • George Allegro

    In a related article we see how Obamacare has viciously raped one young lady’s future: http://washington.cbslocal.com/2013/10/09/college-grad-says-obamacare-has-raped-my-future-in-viral-letter/

  • kernals

    It doesn’t matter what the Republicans think, John McCain and Harry Reid made a deal to end the filibusters of Obama’s nominees

  • aquinas215

    Hussein Obama is a menace to mankind.

  • reya88

    President Obama could nominate Jesus Christ and the Republicans would still find a way to block the nomination

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