Following his largely uneventful nomination hearing, the swearing in Friday of retired Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly as the 5th secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), he received bipartisan praise as the best man for the right job at the right time.
Kelly took the oath Friday evening after the Senate voted to confirm him.
The longest serving Marine Gen. in history, when Trump announced his nomination of Kelly to lead DHS, Kelly was immediately met with praise from throughout both the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community.
“I am honored and humbled to take on this responsibility to serve alongside the magnificent men and women of the Department of Homeland Security,” Kelly said, “and, I look forward to protecting our nation, its citizens and preserving our liberty and upholding the rule of law as I continue my service to this great country. I ask for your patience and prayers as I take on this tremendous task together with you, and my only plea is that together we focus our loyalty on the Constitution that we all have sworn to preserve and protect and the nation we love.”
Prior to joining DHS, Kelly served in the United States Marine Corps for 45 years closing his career as commander of the United States Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) in 2016. Kelly held senior command positions in Iraq and as the Senior Military Assistant to two Secretaries of Defense.
"I am pleased that the Senate voted to confirm retired Marine General John Kelly as the next Secretary of Homeland Security. As President Trump begins his time in office, it is imperative he has his national security team in place on day one to ensure our homeland is protected,” said House Committee on Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX). “Secretary Kelly is a battle-tested general with experience combating the most critical homeland security challenges facing America, and I am confident he will be a great leader of the Department of Homeland Security. I look forward to working with Secretary Kelly to reform [DHS] while securing our borders, combating radical Islamist terror, bolstering our cybersecurity networks and defenses and supporting our first responders to better carry out the paramount task of protecting our homeland and citizens."
With regard to reforming DHS in particular, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to plan to regularly reauthorize, reform and improve DHS in the 115th Congress and beyond recently was signed by McCaul and all chairmen of committees with jurisdiction over DHS.
The department has not been reauthorized since its creation in 2002. Since then, said to MOU announcement, the threat environment has evolved, but DHS has not kept pace. Further, the sprawling nature of DHS jurisdiction in the House has meant that opportunities to fix it have not been fully realized. This landmark agreement allows the Homeland Security Committee to coordinate the reauthorization, reform and improvement effort, and it demonstrates the firm commitment of House Committees and House Leadership to better secure America.”
McCaul said, “We are finally on a solid path to overhaul the Department of Homeland Security and make sure it stays ahead of threats to our country. I am pleased that the committee chairmen with jurisdiction over DHS have come together—for the first time—and formally agreed on a path forward to comprehensively reauthorize the Department in the 115th Congress and beyond. This agreement is just what Americans need to see happening in Washington to have more confidence in our nation’s security. I look forward to working hand-in-hand with my colleagues in the House, the Senate and the new administration to reauthorize DHS and ensure it is equipped to protect the United States and our people more effectively, efficiently and decisively.”
House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said, “I commend the Senate for quickly confirming General Kelly as the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. General Kelly has served and protected our country honorably for decades and is uniquely situated to lead the Department of Homeland Security. He commanded troops during the war in Iraq and headed the US Southern Command. Throughout his distinguished military career, General Kelly understood and responded to the threats facing the United States and saw the sacrifices made to protect our freedom. He will bring much needed leadership to a department that was deeply politicized during the Obama administration. I look forward to working with General Kelly in his new role to ensure our nation is kept safe, our immigration laws are administered fairly, and they are actually enforced.”
Democrats offered similar praise, giving the sign Kelly at the outset enjoys bipartisan support.
Senator Tom Carper (D-DE.), former chair and now senior member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said, “I was honored to introduce Gen. John Kelly at his nomination hearing earlier this month and … I was proud to cast a vote for him as our Secretary of Homeland Security. I trust he will continue the great progress made under former Secretary Jeh Johnson to keep our country safe and secure, whether at our borders, at our ports and airports and in cyberspace.
“Secretary Kelly has years of experience working and building partnerships with our neighbors in Latin America as the former commander of US Southern Command. He shares my firm belief that we must do more as a country to address the root causes of migration from Central America—especially in the Northern Triangle—where poverty, violence and desperation compel so many families to seek a better life in the United States. I look forward to continuing to work with him on this issue."
Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, added, "I congratulate General Kelly on his confirmation and look forward to working with him to help keep the country safe and secure. His solid background and history of service should be commended and helped ensure this critical national security position was quickly filled. Homeland security is a bipartisan issue which all sides have worked together on — and I hope it continues to remain so. Finding common ground is critical to protecting the nation."
Abroad, Colombian Ambassador to the United States Juan Carlos Pinzón said, “On behalf of the Embassy of Colombia, we congratulate Secretary John Kelly as he steps in to lead the US Department of Homeland Security.
“The close US-Colombia partnership has become one of the most important strategic alliances in our region thanks to the service and commitment from leaders such as Secretary Kelly. In his previous capacity as Commander of the US Southern Command, Secretary Kelly was instrumental in strengthening the bond between our two countries and advancing peace and prosperity throughout Latin America.
“We look forward to working with Secretary Kelly and the Trump administration to ensure the US-Colombia partnership remains strong and prosperous in the years ahead.”