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December 17, 2013 9:30 AM, EST

Senate Confirms Johnson to Lead Homeland Security Department

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News

The Senate on Dec. 16 confirmed Jeh Johnson to lead the Department of Homeland Security, clearing the way for him to become the fourth homeland security secretary.

Johnson, who most recently was the Department of Defense’s top attorney, will oversee agencies such as Customs and Border Protection, which is responsible for freight security at points of entry into the United States.

“In Jeh, our dedicated homeland security professionals will have a strong leader with a deep understanding of the threats we face and a proven ability to work across agencies and complex organizations to keep America secure,” President Obama said in a statement after Johnson’s approval by a 78-16 vote.

“He brings experience from the public and private sectors, as well as an impeccable character,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, said in his statement.  “I appreciate his willingness to serve the people of this country and look forward to working with him in his new role.”

Johnson will replace Janet Napolitano, who left in September to become president of the University of California. She had held the job since Obama became president.