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Elaine Duke Becomes Acting Director of the Department of Homeland Security

This week, the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Elaine Duke, became acting director of the department.  She replaces John Kelly, who recently left the position after being appointed White House Chief of Staff.  DHS oversees immigration and deportation enforcement throughout the United States.

Ms. Duke has a long career in both government and the private sector.  She worked for many years in the Department of Defense under both Republican and Democratic administrations.  Her positions included DHS’ Secretary for Management and Chief Procurement Officer, in which she oversaw the department’s budget; a deputy assistant administrator for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) following the September 11 attacks; and a member of the DHS Advisory Council.  In addition to her government service, Ms. Duke was the principal for Elaine Duke & Associates, a management consulting firm.

Ms. Duke was approved by the Senate with a vote of 85-14 for the position of Deputy Secretary of DHS.  Nevertheless, because an appointment to be Secretary of DHS requires Senate approval, she can hold the position in only a temporary capacity, and there is no guarantee that she will be the president’s choice to replace Mr. Kelly.  While she has been mentioned as a candidate for the job, other names being floated, according to CNN, are Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Texas Congressman Michael McCaul, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Thomas Homan.  With Mississippi Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson stating that no one will be confirmed as Secretary of DHS “until the fall at the earliest,” the rumors may continue for weeks to come.

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