The Senate voted Monday to advance the nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen to be the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, setting up a confirmation vote that should happen later this week.
Nielson, 45, the former deputy to White House chief of staff John Kelly, had bipartisan support in the 59-33 vote to end debate on her nomination. The cybersecurity expert sailed through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee by an 11-4 vote.
“Ms. Nielsen is a qualified candidate with the talent and experience to succeed. As Chief of Staff to the previous DHS Secretary, General John Kelly, she understands the daily operations of the Department and shares our goals for its future," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on the Senate floor Monday. "In addition, her previous tenure with the Department makes her an ideal candidate to be ready to lead the agency on day one."
“Ms. Nielsen is an experienced professional who will help lead the Department as it faces constantly evolving threats," McConnell added.
Nielsen worked as Kelly's second in command during his brief tenure at DHS, before moving over to the White House in July, when Kelly replaced Reince Priebus in the role of chief of staff. She has served as principal deputy chief of staff at DHS since the summer.
She also becomes and the sixth individual confirmed to the post and the first former DHS employee to be promoted to chief of the department. She replaces Acting Director Elaine Duke.
Prior to the Trump administration, Nielsen worked at DHS's Transportation Security Administration and served on the White House Homeland Security Council under former President George W. Bush.