One day after Republican ranking member Susan Collins met with Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Chairman Joe Lieberman had his sit-down with the nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security. Yesterday morning, Lieberman emerged from his 47-minute session with Governor Napolitano to make clear that she is “a superb nominee for a critically important department.” Among the praise, he cited specific credentials. “She has had law enforcement experience as a former Attorney General and she is the governor of a border state.”
Thanks to reporting from Dan Fowler at CQ and information from Seamus Hughes of Lieberman’s Committee staff, we have some insight into how the next Secretary of Homeland Security will be treated in her nomination hearing, which is tentatively scheduled for January 15, 2009.
The meeting was a two-way street. While I thought that this would be an opportunity for Lieberman to learn more about the nominee’s positions, it appears that a good portion of the time was spent outlining the committee’s Homeland Security agenda for 2009. Fowler reported that during his meeting with Napolitano, Lieberman said the two discussed his committee’s priorities for the coming year, including a DHS authorization bill. Lieberman views the bill “as a way for this Committee to state conclusions about the resource needs of the Department and policy changes.”
Indeed, cybersecurity appears to have been a shared priority. “We all worry that in the case of a real conflict, parts of our country, our government, could be incapacitated by cyber attacks — so there’s a lot going on in our government to defend us from cyber attack,” Lieberman said. He continued, suggesting his committee will look at “how we’re organizing that defense and what the role of the Department of Homeland Security should be on that.”
See this post for a few suggested topics that would be appropriate for sussing out the future Secretary’s positions.
Lieberman also explained that Napolitano will develop “a first rate management team” and endeavor “to meld together” DHS as a more unified entity. As for restructuring, looks like FEMA’s position is still an open question.