Immigration reform continues to occupy the top of the “must do” and “can do” lists of this Administration and many in Congress. At the State of the Union, circumstances were ripe for the President to mount the bully pulpit to build pressure on House Republicans. Yet, immigration reform received only a passing mention. Why?
There are not many agencies with as diverse a set of responsibilities as U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The two pieces of good news for CBP early in 2014 are that the agency appears to be receiving both an infusion of funds and a confirmed Commissioner to help tackle that very diverse mission set.
Of all the big stories to keep your eye on for 2014, what are three, base-level “working-stiff” issues? They are mobile computing, defense readiness, and the connection between Special Operation Forces and intelligence. If we can get these right, it would take us a long way towards better security.
The Honorable Jeh Johnson has been nominated to replace the long departed Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Janet Napolitano. Strangely, President Obama has portrayed Johnson as a highly qualified candidate. The President seems to be the only one who is impressed. There are a couple of major holes in Johnson’s resume.
On its face, the President’s announcement of Jeh Johnson’s appointment to be the next Secretary of Homeland Security seems politically questionable. Why throw your untested nominee who has to prepare for and endure a Senate confirmation process into the middle of an immigration reform fight? Because Johnson does not appear to have much of a history in the citizenship or border control policy arenas, questions will focus on how he will implement immigration reform legislation.
The anticipated nomination of Jeh Johnson to become the fourth DHS Secretary is welcomed news almost any way you look at it. Johnson’s prodigious resume and professional history is being chronicled by the homeland security, defense and legal establishment writers. Most of those stories will focus on Johnson’s past experience at the Pentagon, but here are the five most pressing issues he ought to address in his confirmation hearing, as well as his tenure as Secretary (should that occur).
At Wednesday’s Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee confirmation hearing for Stevan Bunnell as DHS General Counsel and Suzanne Spaulding as Under Secretary of NPPD, both Chairman Tom Carper and Ranking Member Tom Coburn decried the number of leadership vacancies at DHS. Senator Carper and Coburn’s comments are a positive development, even if the political headwinds are very strong.
Another 9/11 anniversary is upon us. Looking back over the last 12 years, the United States has made a lot of progress in securing the country, and much of this progress grew out of the 9/11 Commission recommendations. Yet, one of these recommendations has not received much action – indeed, no action at all. Congressional oversight of homeland security is as duplicative, wasteful and counterproductive as ever.
After weeks of speculation, long lists of potential candidates and plenty of public debate, the Secretary position at the Department of Homeland Security is still unfilled. There are plenty of reputable, competent people to choose from, but the empty chair at the head of DHS is about par for the course in a federal department whose leadership roster looks like Swiss cheese.
The Department of Homeland Security has been at the mercy of the White House, and nowhere has there been a greater concern than in the seeming lack of urgency in filling vacant positions. What else (other than incompetence) could explain the failure of this Administration to fill the multitude of vacant and dual-hatted positions in DHS leadership? As President Obama is likely to say in his Tuesday night national address, America must take action. Concerning DHS, the President should follow his own advice.