The Senate last night confirmed Jeh Johnson to be the next secretary of homeland security.
The 78-to-16 vote makes the former Pentagon lawyer the fourth leader in the short history of the Department of Homeland Security.
Johnson, 56, is a native of New York and was in Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, an experience he credited with helping him make the decision to accept the job as DHS secretary.
“I was not looking for this opportunity,” Johnson said during a Rose Garden press briefing during which President Barack Obama announced his nomination. “But when I received the call, I could not refuse it. I love this country. I care about the safety of our people.”
Obama has credited Johnson with helping to design and implement many of the policies that help keep the United States safe. “He’s been there, in the Situation Room, at the table,” Obama said, describing Johnson as a cool and calm leader.
Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) characterized Johnson as a strong leader who is well-prepared for the challenges that await him at DHS.
“He brings experience from the public and private sectors, as well as an impeccable character,” Carper said in a statement issued shortly after the Senate vote.
At DOD, “he was a major player in the management team that ran the Defense Department … giving him invaluable experience for the huge task to which he has been nominated,” Carper said.
During his confirmation process, Johnson has received bipartisan support and letters of recommendation from all three former DHS Secretaries Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano.