The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Deputy White House chief of staff Kirstjen Nielsen as President Donald Trump's choice to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
Nielsen was confirmed 62 to 37, the narrowest-ever margin to approve a DHS Secretary.
Throughout her confirmation process, Ms. Nielsen failed to demonstrate that she would provide the steady experienced leadership - free from political interference from the White House - that the department needs.
Nielsen will take over for Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, and will be sworn-in sometime in the coming days.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) offered his support following the Senate's confirmation vote. "She has been working in and around the Department of Homeland Security since its creation".
As leader of the Department of Homeland Security, Nielsen will oversee a massive bureaucracy of almost 250,000 employees that help ensure the security of the IT assets of federal civilian agencies as well as the nation's critical infrastructure.
"Ms. Nielsen will be charged with leading the department at a critical time", he said.
But Democrats raised concerns during her confirmation hearing about her lack of leadership experience, noting that DHS is a sprawling agency with roughly 240,000 employees.
She's a protégé of former Marine General John Kelly, who had been DHS secretary until Trump tapped him to be White House chief of staff in July.
Stewart Baker a former DHS assistant secretary for policy during the George W. Bush administration, credits Nielsen as being a significant force in cybersecurity policymaking at DHS during the early months of the Trump administration. She previously was the White House's deputy chief of staff where she was widely considered a close Kelly ally.
Her position will also drop her into the middle of multiple immigration fights, as senators debate how to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Trump repeatedly promised during the campaign that he would build the wall and that Mexico would pay for it, but the administration is seeking billions in taxpayer dollars to finance the project. The Supreme Court handed Trump a win on Monday by granting his administration's request to fully reinstate the third version of his travel ban.
The newly confirmed secretary also pledged during her confirmation hearing to continue implementing Trump's aggressive immigration agenda.
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