Welcome back. And thank you for allowing this blog to indulge is a greatly enjoyed break over the holidays. I hope you all had a chance to disengage a bit, too. Now on the Watch:
Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) is reportedly meeting this afternoon with Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, President-elect Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security. As ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Collins will use the meeting as an opportunity to discuss the upcoming nomination hearing for Napolitano, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 15.
Napolitano has been a popular governor, with approval ratings hovering around 60 percent. And her proactive approach to securing Arizona’s border by deploying National Guard troops at the state’s expense has been lauded by both political parties. However, Arizona is tied for last in disaster preparedness among states, according to an annual report released last month by the Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The report, “Ready or Not? Protecting the Public’s Health From Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism,” gave Arizona a passing score on only five of the 10 benchmarks related to health-related emergency response.
Collins is likely to focus instead on certain key positions the nominee brings to DHS. For example:
Napolitano opposes plans to build hundreds of miles of new fencing along the Mexican border. In one of her best quotes, she says “You show me a 50-foot wall, and I’ll show you a 51-foot ladder.” What does this mean for the Secure Border Initiative?
The department wastes billions on poorly managed contracts, like SBInet, the Homeland Security Information Network, and USCG’s Deepwater. What management imperatives does Gov. Napolitano plan to bring to DHS?
DHS’s morale is among the lowest in the federal government. How does she plan to address this problem and the ongoing challenge of integration and culture development at the Department?
President Bush issued 24 Homeland Security Presidential Directives on everything from how the White House is organized for homeland policy (HSPD-1) to combating WMD (HSPD-4) to terrorist screening (HSPD-11) to cyber security strategies (HSPD-23). How does the new DHS leadership view these as being superseded or amended?
I’ll update this post throughout the day as more information comes in (and after this meeting ends).
Thanks to Senator Lieberman’s office for letting me know that he plans to hold his own meeting with nominee Napolitano tomorrow morning. There’s a chance I might be able to head over to the Hart building afterward to ask a couple questions. If so, I’ll let you all know what I learn.