On December 5, 2017, Kirstjen Nielsen was confirmed as the new Secretary of Department of Homeland Security by the Senate on a bi-partisan 62-37 vote, with just 11 votes from the Senate minority for her confirmation. Nielsen is a close aide to John Kelly, White House Chief of Staff and former Secretary DHS.
Elaine Duke, who has served in an interim capacity for four months, has said that she will continue to work with Nielsen as her deputy.
As Secretary of DHS, Nielsen will be in charge of 240,000 employees in 22 sub-agencies with broad jurisdiction and a range of responsibilities, including immigration enforcement, border patrol, aviation security, disaster preparedness, domestic counter-terrorism, the Secret Service, and the Coast Guard. A lawyer and expert in cybersecurity, Nielsen is the first Secretary of DHS who has worked at the agency before. She was Kelly’s Chief of Staff. She also has experience working at the TSA and as an advisor for emergency preparedness and disaster relief during the Bush Administration.