The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will soon have an acting leader, after the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. One of Iowa’s U.S. senators is concerned about turnover in the department. Homeland Security will join a number of agencies with temporary directors.
The Department of Defense, Department of the Interior and FEMA are all led by acting directors. While in this temporary position, they don’t have to be confirmed by the Senate. The president has said he likes the “flexibility” of interim agency heads.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Ia., says Democratic opposition could be a factor in the president’s appointment process.
“You could say that that’s one rationale he might be using to have acting people because he just doesn’t want to put up with the long process of confirmation. And he can still accomplish the same thing with the acting as he can with somebody confirmed, for the most part," Grassley said.
According to an analysis by the Brookings Institution, 15 cabinet-level officials have left the Trump administration, more than under each of the past three presidents. A senior fellow at the organization told NPR the turnover among top Trump administration officials is "record-breaking".
Grassley says the process of confirming an official or not could impact their credibility.
"You tend to have more power, maybe because you have more respect because of Senate confirmation than an acting person does," he said. "So I think it strengthens his administration to have confirmed people in there.”
Grassley says he’s concerned about media reports that a slate of Homeland Security officials are leaving the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of Nielsen's resignation. He says current staffers said to be on the way out help ensure the president has a “rational immigration policy."