Good afternoon, Chairman Johnson, Ranking Member Peters, and other distinguished members of the committee. It is an honor to appear before you today as the President’s nominee to be the Secretary of Homeland Security. I’m grateful to the President for the faith and trust that he has placed in me to serve with the tremendous men and women of the Department, whose mission is now more important and crucial to the safety and security of our Homeland than ever before.
As each of you personally understand, service to one’s country means dedication, hard work, and commitment. That dedication often means less personal time with family and loved ones, which is a sacrifice felt by all of us in public service. For many years, my family has made tremendous sacrifices so that I could serve our Nation and I would like to take this time to recognize them for their ongoing encouragement, patience, and support as I continue my journey at the Department.
Please allow me to introduce my wife of 16 years, Hope, and our two children, Tucker and Preston. Without their support, I would not be here today.
I would like to recognize my parents, Jim and Cinda, who are unable to travel to D.C. today, but who are proudly watching these proceedings in real-time. They instilled in me a sense of service and commitment and have been enormously supportive of my desire to pursue public service.
I’d also like to thank the members of this committee and their staff for the important work that you do each day. I have had the privilege to meet many of you throughout the past several years and if confirmed, I look forward to the opportunity of continuing to work closely together to advance the mission of the Department to keep the American people safe.
And finally, I would like to thank the DHS workforce for what you do every day keeping the Homeland safe and secure. Most Americans don’t understand the sacrifices you make, the unfair criticism you endure, or the complexities of your job. From one employee to another – thank you.
Like many Americans, my personal call to service began on September 11th, when I was Congressional staffer. At that time, I had no idea that the events of that morning would forever shape my future and the future of our Nation.
Heeding the call to service, I joined the newly created Transportation Security Administration, the very agency tasked with securing our airways and for ensuring that an event like 9/11 never happened again. I was proud to serve at TSA during its inception and its integration into the Department of Homeland Security.
Over the past several years, I have held several positions at DHS, to include among others, as the Department’s Chief of Staff, Assistant Secretary, Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans, and currently as the Acting Secretary, which has been the honor of a lifetime.
Over the past 10 months, while serving as the Acting Secretary, our Nation and the Department has experienced some of the most difficult challenges of the past generation, but I couldn’t be prouder of the accomplishments we’ve achieved.
We’ve faced a global pandemic head-on and led the Federal Government’s unprecedented response efforts to include the coordinated distribution of billions of items of life-saving PPE.
We’ve aggressively pushed back against malign foreign actors and nation states who have sought to interfere in our elections. We have worked together with all 50 states and territories to protect our election infrastructure. We’ve been tireless in our efforts because we believe that free and fair elections are the bulwark of our democracy.
We’ve taken extraordinary measures to protect the American people from a broad array of threats – to include homegrown violent extremists, domestic violent extremists, human trafficking, transnational organized crime, illegal narcotics, and COVID-19, and more.
We’ve stood firm against civil unrest and violence, much of which had been directed toward our Nation’s federal properties, and law enforcement officers themselves. The Department has surged resources as needed, provided mutual aid to state and local partners as appropriate, and done so with the respect and professionalism I’ve come to expect from the dedicated men and women of DHS law enforcement.
And finally, we are supporting our states and their local governments as they combat wildfires and prepare and recover from hurricanes.
Against each of these challenges, the Department has marshaled our assets, exercised our authorities, and unified our efforts to safeguard the American people and our way of life. But despite the challenges of today, our eyes are remaining firmly on the horizon. As the strategies of our enemies evolve, DHS will adapt at every turn to defeat those who seek to do our Nation harm.
As our men and women can attest, the mission at the Department of Homeland Security is anything but simple or easy. It is one that is increasingly complex and expansive; one that transcends borders, mission-sets, and threat-streams. Answering the call, often in the most arduous of environments and difficult of circumstances, has been my sole focus since day one.
It has been the greatest honor of my life to serve alongside the 240,000 dedicated men and women that make up DHS. If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, I look forward to continuing our progress to secure, protect, and enrich the lives of all Americans.