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Senate panel approves Trump choice to lead the Homeland Security

WASHINGTON – A key Senate committee on Tuesday approved President Donald Trump’s choice for the lead of the Department of Homeland Security.

The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee approved Kirstjen Nielsen with the nomination, 11-4. The panel chairman, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said the full Senate could vote on Nielsen’s nomination by the end of November.

Nielsen, 45, is a former member of staff at DHS, who now serves as deputy White House chief of staff.

Democrats complained that they do not have the experience needed to run a large agency with 240,000 employees. They also referred to the concern about the possible White House interference in a recent DHS decision to send home thousands of Nicaraguans long granted U.S. protection.

Johnson dismissed those concerns and said Nielsen’s boss, White House chief of staff John Kelly, he called her a “superstar.”

The Homeland Security post “is a very big job. Probably no one is fully qualified. I think they are a number of good qualifications,” Johnson said, adding that it was important to fill the post as quickly as possible.

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., according to Nielsen has played a role in a number of questionable Trump administration decisions, including a number of attempts at a travel ban on the import limit of the selected countries, termination of a program for young immigrants and what Harris called a “weak response to Hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey.”

Harris also said she was troubled by Nielsen’s failure to recognize in its confirmation to hear how human behavior contributes to climate change.

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