WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Thursday held a nomination hearing for Governor Janet Napolitano, who is President-Elect Obama’s choice to be Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The Senators asked the Governor’s views on a broad range of issues including border security, communications interoperability, and rail and transit security.
“I believe Gov. Napolitano is a superb choice to lead our nation’s domestic security agency and help in its ongoing transition from a start-up operation to a mature agency whose component parts work together so well that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts,” said Lieberman. “Governor Napolitano brings the management experience that comes from being the chief executive of a fast-growing state. She knows how to work with officials and first responders at all levels of government – a crucial qualification for this job where success is impossible without cooperation across the nation at the federal, state and local levels. And as governor of a border state, she has front-line experience on some of the challenges facing her Department like illegal immigration and border security.”
Collins said: “As the Department of Homeland Security nears its sixth anniversary, those of us who advocated its creation can salute its accomplishments while still recognizing that it remains very much a work in progress. The men and women at DHS have helped deter and protect our nation from terrorist attacks. Our nation’s ability to prepare for and respond to all disasters has also improved dramatically with the reforms this Committee made to FEMA. Nonetheless, constantly evolving terrorist threats and the forces of nature require further improvements at the Department. And its vital mission demands a strong, skilled leader at the helm.”
Lieberman pressed the importance of confirming the nominee as soon as possible in order to maintain the nation’s readiness to prevent a terrorist attack. The Committee likely will not vote on the nomination, which instead is expected to be held on the Senate floor so the nominee can be confirmed quickly after the President-Elect is sworn into office January 20, 2009.
“Getting you into office,” Lieberman told the nominee, “is as important as seating the Secretary of Defense.”