At a time when many top presidential appointments have been blocked by Senate
Just two of the panel's Republicans, Sens.
Johnson had earned the admiration of Republicans during his time as the Pentagon's chief counsel. He was also endorsed by a bipartisan group of leading judicial and military figures and law enforcement groups, as well as all three former secretaries of Homeland Security.
If confirmed, Johnson will take the helm of an agency long criticized for poor management and waste. Created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, DHS encompasses 22 disparate agencies and has more than 240,000 employees.
"He is a strong leader, well prepared for the challenges that await him," Sen.
"It's one of the most dysfunctional departments in government. And I think we're going to have a good leader to straighten that out," said Sen.
The department still has several other vacancies its top ranks. The nomination for the No. 2 job, the deputy secretary, has been held up by Republican concerns about a pending inspector general investigation over whether the candidate, Alejandro Mayorkas, interfered in a visa program for foreign investors.