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April 10, 2020

Thompson Statement Marking One Year Since DHS Has Had a Permanent, Senate Confirmed Secretary

(WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement marking one year since the Department of Homeland Security has had a permanent, Senate confirmed leader.  Since Kirstjen Nielsen left her position on April 10, 2019, the position has been filled by various officials serving in an acting capacity.

“Our nation is in the middle of a pandemic, and the key national security agency charged with aiding our pandemic preparedness and response has been without steady leadership for an entire year.  When the Department was created over 17 years ago, it would have been unthinkable that a President would purposely leave this critical agency – with over 240,000 frontline workers – without real leadership.  Worse yet, we don’t even have a nominee and there is zero indication one is coming.  The American people don’t care if the President wants ‘flexibility’ in his cabinet – they simply want their leaders in government to be properly vetted and held accountable. 

“This absence of real, permanent leadership will undoubtedly inflict long-term damage on the management of the Department and the morale of its workers, whom require – and deserve – steady leadership to do their job as the Federal government’s frontline workforce during this crisis. This leadership would have been critical during our current crisis to address the multifaceted and novel issues of a pandemic.  It is a chief failing of the Administration that the President has been unable to ignore his need to feed his anti-immigrant base. He should have been able to put forth experienced, trusted leadership who could work with Congress in good faith to help keep the country safe.”

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