The three former secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security are urging the Senate to confirm President Obama’s nominee for the post, Jeh Johnson, who will appear before lawmakers in the upper chamber on Wednesday.
“Mr. Johnson’s experience and ability makes him an eminently qualified nominee,” former DHS Secretaries Tom Ridge, Michael Chertoff and Janet Napolitano wrote in a letter to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which is taking up the nomination.
“His service at the highest levels of the U.S. Department of Defense, the largest government agency in the world, provided him a keen understanding of and the logistics required to successfully execute large-scale, operational missions of varying complexity and purpose,” they added.
Johnson served as the Defense Department’s general counsel for much of Obama’s first term before returning to private practice. Johnson was a surprise pick, and some Republicans have questioned whether he is qualified to lead the massive federal agency created in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
Republicans recently blocked Obama’s pick to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Rep. Mel Watt, D-N.C., and a judicial nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Johnson’s confirmation also appears uncertain.
The administration is arguing that during a time of such major national security challenges, the Senate must confirm the DHS nominee as swiftly as possible. They hope the endorsement from the trio of former DHS secretaries will help break the logjam on Capitol Hill for the president's nominees. Ridge and Chertoff both served under former President George W. Bush, a Republican.
“Mr. Johnson’s abilities and experiences will not only continue the important effort the Department of Homeland Security is charged with,” the secretaries wrote, “but build on the progress made over the last 10 years to combat an ever-evolving threat.”