Jeh Johnson was confirmed by the Senate to be the next Homeland Security Secretary on Dec. 17. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The Senate has overwhelmingly confirmed Jeh Johnson to head the Department of Homeland Security and could take up the more contentious nomination of Alejandro Mayorkas to become DHS deputy secretary later this week. Johnson won approval by a vote of 78-16.
The Monday night vote on Johnson’s nomination came two months after President Obama chose him to lead the 240,000-employee agency. Johnson will replace Janet Napolitano, who left in September to run the University of California system.
Johnson, who was DoD general counsel from 2009 until last December, is “a strong leader with a deep understanding of the threats we face and a proven ability to work across agencies and complex organizations to keep America secure,” Obama said in a statement after the vote.
Johnson, a former federal prosecutor, also worked as general counsel for the Air Force in the Clinton administration and has spent years in private practice.
Also on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., formally filed to cut off debate on Mayorkas’ nomination, setting the stage for a final confirmation vote before the Senate adjourns for the year.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved the nomination last week over Republican objections that it should wait until the DHS inspector general completes an investigation into allegations that Mayorkas — who currently leads U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at DHS — improperly sought to influence a visa program for foreign investors. Mayorkas has denied wrongdoing.