Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed as Homeland Security Secretary

Kirstjen Nielsen at the Annual Meeting 2016 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, January 20, 2016. (World Economic Forum / CC-BY-2.0)

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The Senate confirmed Kirstjen Nielsen on Tuesday as Secretary of Homeland Security by a vote of 62-37.

The tally comes after President Donald Trump nominated Nielsen once John Kelly moved to become Trump’s chief of staff. She previously was the White House’s deputy chief of staff where she was widely considered a close Kelly ally.

Nielsen was chosen by the White House as the preferred nominee in early 2017 but waffled on the decision, which stalled the nomination of DHS leadership for months.

Nielsen’s confirmation comes despite criticism on her relative lack of leadership experience, independence and ethics that hampered her nomination process.

Despite increasing prominence in the national conversation, cybersecurity was a secondary topic during Nielsen’s confirmation hearing. The security of voting machines, the electric grid and the nation’s critical infrastructure took a relative backseat to climate change, border security and immigration enforcement.

Senate committee votes to nominate Nielsen were delayed multiple times over ethics violations allegations after she accepted confirmation preparation help from a consultant representing companies with hundreds of millions of dollars at stake.

Before that, Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee said the inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security should investigate a “glitzy ceremony” at the White House celebrating Nielsen’s nomination.

“While I am glad that the Department of Homeland Security will soon finally have a permanent leader for the first time since July, there is still much we do not know about Ms. Nielsen’s plans for the Department,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson, R-Miss., Ranking Member of the House Homeland Security Committee. “She still must show us she has the ability lead a workforce of 240,000 while keeping the country safe and secure.”

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DHS, Donald Trump, John Kelly, Kirstjen Nielsen
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