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United States Secretary of Homeland Security

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

United States Secretary of Homeland Security
Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security.svg
Seal of the Department of Homeland Security
Flag of the United States Secretary of Homeland Security.svg
Flag of the Secretary of Homeland Security
Kirstjen Nielsen

since December 6, 2017
United States Department of Homeland Security
StyleMadam Secretary
Member ofCabinet
Homeland Security Council
Reports toPresident of the United States
SeatWashington, D.C.
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Term lengthNo fixed term
Constituting instrument6 U.S.C. § 112
FormationJanuary 24, 2003
(16 years ago)
First holderTom Ridge
DeputyDeputy Secretary of Homeland Security
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level 1

The United States Secretary of Homeland Security is the head of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the body concerned with protecting the U.S. and the safety of U.S. citizens. The secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet. The position was created by the Homeland Security Act following the attacks of September 11, 2001. The new department consisted primarily of components transferred from other cabinet departments because of their role in homeland security, such as the Coast Guard, the Federal Protective Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (which includes the Border Patrol), U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (which includes Homeland Security Investigations), the Secret Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It did not, however, include the FBI or the CIA.[2]

On January 20, 2009, the Senate confirmed Barack Obama's appointment of Janet Napolitano to be the third Secretary of Homeland Security,[3] effective January 21, 2009.[4] Napolitano resigned effective August 2013 to head the University of California. On October 17, President Obama announced his intention to nominate former General Counsel of the Department of Defense Jeh Johnson, and on December 16, the US Senate confirmed the nomination.[5]

The current Secretary of Homeland Security is Kirstjen Nielsen following the appointment of the then-incumbent secretary, John F. Kelly, to the post of White House Chief of Staff by President Donald Trump.[6] It was announced on October 12, 2017, that Kirstjen Nielsen was nominated as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security by President Donald Trump. She was confirmed by the Senate on December 5, 2017.[7] The Senate confirmation vote was 62-37.[8]

Inclusion in the presidential line of succession

Traditionally, the order of the presidential line of succession is determined (after the Vice President, Speaker of the House, and President pro tempore of the Senate) by the order of the creation of the cabinet positions, and the list as mandated under 3 U.S.C. § 19 follows this tradition.[citation needed]

On March 7, 2006, 43rd President George W. Bush signed H.R. 3199 as Pub.L. 109–177, which renewed the Patriot Act of 2001 and amended the Presidential Succession Act of 1947 to include the newly created Presidential Cabinet position of Secretary of Homeland Security in the line of succession after the previously authorized Secretary of Veterans Affairs (§ 503) (which are listed and designated in the order that their departments were created). In the 109th Congress, legislation was introduced to place the Secretary of Homeland Security into the line of succession after the Attorney General but that bill expired at the end of the 109th Congress and was not re-introduced.[citation needed]

List of Secretaries of Homeland Security

Prior to the establishment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there existed an Assistant to the President for the Office of Homeland Security, which was created following the September 11 attacks in 2001.


  Republican (2)   Democratic (2)   Independent (2)


  Denotes Acting Homeland Security Secretary

Secretary of Homeland Security Took office Left office Time in office Party State of residence President
1Ridge, TomTom Ridge
(born 1945)
January 24, 2003February 1, 20052 years, 8 daysRepublicanPennsylvaniaBush, GeorgeGeorge W. Bush (Rep)
-Loy, JamesJames Loy
(born 1942)
February 1, 2005February 15, 200514 daysIndependentPennsylvaniaBush, GeorgeGeorge W. Bush (Rep)
2Chertoff, MichaelMichael Chertoff
(born 1953)
February 15, 2005January 21, 20093 years, 341 daysRepublicanNew JerseyBush, GeorgeGeorge W. Bush (Rep)
3Napolitano, JanetJanet Napolitano
(born 1957)
January 21, 2009September 6, 20134 years, 228 daysDemocraticArizonaObama, BarackBarack Obama (Dem)
-Beers, RandRand Beers
(born 1942)
September 6, 2013December 16, 2013101 daysDemocraticDistrict of ColumbiaObama, BarackBarack Obama (Dem)
4Johnson, JehJeh Johnson
(born 1957)
December 23, 2013January 20, 20173 years, 28 daysDemocraticNew JerseyObama, BarackBarack Obama (Dem)
5Kelly, JohnJohn F. Kelly
(born 1950)
January 20, 2017July 31, 2017192 daysIndependentMassachusettsTrump, DonaldDonald Trump (Rep)
-Duke, ElaineElaine Duke
(born 1958)
July 31, 2017December 6, 2017128 daysIndependentOhioTrump, DonaldDonald Trump (Rep)
6Nielsen, KirstjenKirstjen Nielsen
(born 1972)
December 6, 2017Incumbent1 year, 101 daysIndependentFloridaTrump, DonaldDonald Trump (Rep)

1 James Loy served as acting secretary in his capacity as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security from February 1, 2005, to February 15, 2005.

2 Rand Beers served as acting secretary in his capacity as confirmed Undersecretary of Homeland Security for National Protection and Programs and Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security; Beers was the highest ranking Senate-approved presidential appointee at the Department of Homeland Security from September 6, 2013, to December 23, 2013.

3 Elaine Duke served as acting secretary in her capacity as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security from July 31, 2017, to December 6, 2017.

Living former Secretaries of Homeland Security

As of November 2018, all five former Secretaries of Homeland Security are still living, as are all three former acting Secretaries of Homeland Security. The oldest being former acting Secretary James Loy (born 1942).

Name Term Date of birth (and age)
Tom Ridge January 24, 2003 – February 1, 2005 (1945-08-26) August 26, 1945 (age 73)
Michael Chertoff February 15, 2005 – January 21, 2009 (1953-11-28) November 28, 1953 (age 65)
Janet Napolitano January 21, 2009 – September 6, 2013 (1957-11-29) November 29, 1957 (age 61)
Jeh Johnson December 23, 2013 – January 20, 2017 (1957-09-11) September 11, 1957 (age 61)
John F. Kelly January 20, 2017 – July 31, 2017 (1950-05-11) May 11, 1950 (age 68)

Order of succession

The order of succession for the Secretary of Homeland Security is as follows:[9]

  1. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
  2. Under Secretary of Homeland Security for National Protection and Programs
  3. Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Management
  4. Under Secretary, Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans
  5. Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology
  6. General Counsel of the Department of Homeland Security
  7. Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration
  8. Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
  9. Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  10. Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  11. Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  12. Chief Financial Officer
  13. Regional Administrator, Region V, Federal Emergency Management Agency
  14. Regional Administrator, Region VI, Federal Emergency Management Agency
  15. Regional Administrator, Region VII, Federal Emergency Management Agency
  16. Regional Administrator, Region IX, Federal Emergency Management Agency
  17. Regional Administrator, Region I, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Administration-cited potential nominees

Bernard Kerik

George W. Bush nominated Bernard Kerik for the position in 2004. However a week later, Kerik withdrew his nomination, explaining that he had employed an illegal immigrant as a nanny.[10]

Raymond Kelly

By July 2013, Raymond Kelly had served as Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for nearly 12 straight years. Within days of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's announcement that she was resigning, Kelly was soon cited as an obvious potential successor by New York Senator Charles Schumer and others.[11]

During a July 16, 2013, interview, President Obama referred generally to the "bunch of strong candidates" for nomination to head the Department of Homeland Security, but singled out Kelly as "one of the best there is" and "very well qualified for the job".[12]

Later in July 2013, the online internet news website/magazine Huffington Post detailed "a growing campaign to quash the potential nomination of New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly as the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security" amid claims of "divisive, harmful, and ineffective policing that promotes stereotypes and profiling".[13] Days after that article, Kelly penned a statistics-heavy Wall Street Journal opinion article defending the NYPD's programs, stating "the average number of stops we conduct is less than one per officer per week" and that this and other practices have led to "7,383 lives saved—and... they are largely the lives of young men of color."[14]

Kelly was also featured because of his NYPD retirement and unusually long tenure there in a long segment on the CBS News program Sunday Morning in December 2013, especially raising the question of the controversial "stop and frisk" policy in New York City and the long decline and drop of various types of crimes committed.


  1. ^ "3 U.S. Code § 19 - Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act". LII / Legal Information Institute.
  2. ^ Homeland Security Act, Pub.L. 107–296
  3. ^ Murray, Shailagh; Kane, Paul (January 21, 2009). "Obama Picks Confirmed, But Clinton Is on Hold". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 2, 2010.
  4. ^ Chertoff: Inauguration security forces 'ready' -
  5. ^ "Senate confirms new homeland security secretary".
  6. ^ Byrnes, Jesse (July 28, 2017). "Meet the woman set to lead Homeland Security". TheHill. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
  7. ^ "Senate confirms Kirstjen Nielsen to head Homeland Security". CBS News. December 5, 2017. Retrieved December 5, 2017.
  8. ^ "U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate Roll Call Votes 115th Congress - 1st Session". Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  9. ^ "Executive Order 13442: Amending the Order of Succession in the Department of Homeland Security" (PDF). Retrieved January 29, 2009.
  10. ^ Bernstein, Nina. "Mystery Woman in Kerik Case: Nanny". The New York Times. Retrieved October 29, 2015.
  11. ^ "Names already popping as possible Janet Napolitano replacements", by Kevin Robillard and Scott Wong, Politico, July 12, 2013, retrieved July 13, 2013.
  12. ^ "Obama would consider Ray Kelly to replace Janet Napolitano", by Jennifer Epstein, Politico, July 16, 2013, retrieved July 17, 2013.
  13. ^ "Muslims Oppose Raymond Kelly Bid For Homeland Security Secretary", by Omar Sacirbey, Huffington Post, August 1, 2013, retrieved August 4, 2013.
  14. ^ "Ray Kelly: The NYPD: Guilty of Saving 7,383 Lives", by Ray Kelly, Opinion: The Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2013, retrieved August 4, 2013.

External links

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Robert Wilkie
as Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Secretary of Homeland Security
Succeeded by
John F. Kelly
as White House Chief of Staff
U.S. presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Robert Wilkie
18th in line Last
This page was last edited on 6 March 2019, at 04:27
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