Opening Statement by Gen. John Kelly for DHS Confirmation Hearing

AP Photo/Molly Riley

Former Gen. John Kelly faces his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday afternoon, so the Trump transition team is laying out their case for his confirmation as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

On Monday evening, the team sent out their arguments for Kelly’s confirmation, along with his statement to the U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee.

As President-Elect Trump noted: “Gen. John Kelly’s decades of military service and deep commitment to fighting the threat of terrorism inside our borders makes him the ideal choice to serve as our Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. He is the right person to spearhead the urgent mission of stopping illegal immigration and securing our borders, streamlining TSA and improving coordination between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies. With Gen. Kelly at the helm of DHS, the American people will have a leader committed to our safety as well as one who will work hand-in-hand with America’s rank-and-file TSA, ICE and Border Patrol officers.”

• General Kelly’s nomination is aligned with the American people, who voted to stop terrorism, re-establish sovereignty at our borders, and take our national security seriously. 

• He’s a retired U.S. Marine Corps 4-Star General with exemplary four-decade military career

• General Kelly led U.S. Southern Command where he was intimately involved in, and often coordinated, the whole of U.S. Government inter-agency efforts in the interdiction of drug and human trafficking, counterterrorism, human rights, and working with partners to safeguard southern approaches to the U.S. border

• General Kelly was previously confirmed by the Senate, under unanimous consent, five times

• He has gained strong bi-partisan support from leaders such as Former Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), Director, Woodrow Wilson Center: “I’m Positive About It…I Think This Guy Has Enormous Credibility That He Will Get The Lead Assignment On The Border.”

• The National Border Patrol Council lauded his nomination:  “Stellar Credentials… General Kelly’s Troops, By All Accounts, Loved Him, Which, Bodes Well for the Morale Issue Within DHS, and He Appears to Be A No-Nonsense Rule Of Law General…” 

• He is a former Senior Military Adviser to Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta and Robert Gates 

• General Kelly is a Gold Star family member, whose son was killed while serving in Afghanistan

• U.S. Sen. John McCain and former Def. Sec. Robert Gates will introduce Gen. Kelly to the Homeland Security Committee tomorrow.

The statement shows he will be accompanied by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who served as Pentagon chief for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

He will also be accompanied by Sen. John McCain, one of the most pro-amnesty advocates in the GOP. That choice may reduce opposition among the pro-amnesty Democrats on the committee, but it will also unnerve Trump’s supporters who know that Trump’s promise to build a border wall, reform guest-worker programs, and pause immigration is deeply opposed by McCain and all major political factions in Washington, D.C.

McCain is very influential, partly because he’s one of the eight GOP members on the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, alongside seven Democrats. That swing-vote gives him the power to block many of Trump’s homeland security promises. In 2013, he was one of the leaders in the so-called “Gang of Eight” Senators who tried to push through a “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” bill that would have supplied business with at least two decades of cheap, wage-cutting, legal immigrant labor

Statement of General John F. Kelly, USMC (Ret.)

Before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

On His Nomination to Serve as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security January 10, 2016

Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member McCaskill, and distinguished Senators of the Committee, please accept my thanks and appreciation for considering my nomination to lead the men and women of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Senator McCain and Secretary Gates – I am grateful that each of you took the time to be here on my behalf, and for your kind words.

Please allow me to introduce my family. My wife, Karen, is here, as are my daughter and son-in-law. Anyone who has answered the call to serve our country knows that the personal sacrifices of public service are often felt most acutely by their families. As the wife and mother to three strong-willed Marines and one determined FBI agent, Karen has been my anchor and I’m grateful for her love and partnership.

Over the past 45 years, I have been privileged to serve my nation as both an enlisted Marine and an officer. I have led platoons and divisions. I have held senior command positions in Iraq, served as the Combatant Commander of the U.S. Southern Command, and as the Senior Military Assistant to two Secretaries of Defense—Secretaries Gates and Panetta. I have worked with our allies, across agencies, the private sector, and with independent experts to identify innovative, comprehensive solutions to current and emerging threats.

These assignments—while varied—shared the common characteristics of working within and leading large, complex, and diverse mission-focused organizations, while under great pressure to produce results.

I am humbled to once again be called to serve, this time with the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security.

As I solemnly swore before God when I entered the Marine Corps, if confirmed, I will faithfully support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic—every second of every day.

I believe in America and the principles upon which our country and way of life are guaranteed. I believe in respect, tolerance, and diversity of opinion. I have a profound respect for the rule of law and will always strive to uphold it.

I have never had a problem speaking truth to power, and I firmly believe that those in power deserve full candor and my honest assessment and recommendations.

I love my country, and I will do everything within my power to preserve our liberty, enforce our laws, and protect our citizens. I recognize the many challenges facing the Department of Homeland Security—and should I be confirmed—I look forward to partnering with you all to protect the homeland.

I look forward to discussing the future of this Department and answering the Committee’s questions. Thank you for this opportunity.

Kelly faces a difficult task of implementing Trump’s pro-American immigration reform plans, which are deeply opposed by progressive and business groups, and by most GOP Senators and nearly all Democratic Senators.