As the nation’s capital prepared to celebrate the inauguration of the nation’s 45th President, Senators confirmed President Donald Trump’s nominees for Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
Retired Generals James (“Mad Dog”) Mattis and John F. Kelly were approved by votes of 98-1 and 88-11, respectively. Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican, did not vote for either candidate.
Together, Mattis and Kelly will be responsible for at least $86.6 billion in tech spending (based on figures taken from the last Presidential budgets for both departments).
The President has said that he will do away with the policy of military sequestration, which required cuts to military budgets as part of legislation designed to push Congress to agree to a deficit reduction plan.
Mattis returns to the Department of Defense after years of service as one of the U.S. Marine Corps’ top generals in Iraq and Afghanistan and brings with him a reputation of bluntness and a hardline policy on Iran.
For policy experts, Mattis represents an experienced Washington DC player in a Cabinet that looks to be stocked with members who have little-to-no experience in government.
Both Mattis and John Kelly, the incoming head of the Department of Homeland Security are the two members of the Trump cabinet with the most time in Washington and most experience working with the departments that they will head.
Managing a budget of more than $40 billion and responsible for more than 240,000 workers, Kelly will take the reins of an organization responsible for border security, immigration control, responding to natural disasters, cyber-security and screening passengers at airports, among other duties.
In 2016, the DHS had a $676 million budget for two main cybersecurity initiatives. The first was $471 million for the National Cybersecurity Protection System, to combat intrusions, enhance information sharing, and deploy analytical capabilities to secure the Federal civilian information technology enterprise.
The second was a $274.8 million budget for the Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation program which provides hardware, software, and services to protect federal “.gov” networks.
“Mad Dog” Mattis inherits a budget orders of magnitude larger than Kelly’s and one that should expand given statements from the incoming Trump Administration.
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President Trump will end the defense sequester and submit a new budget to Congress outlining a plan to rebuild our military. We will provide our military leaders with the means to plan for our future defense needs.
We will also develop a state-of-the-art missile defense system to protect against missile-based attacks from states like Iran and North Korea.
Cyberwarfare is an emerging battlefield, and we must take every measure to safeguard our national security secrets and systems. We will make it a priority to develop defensive and offensive cyber capabilities at our U.S. Cyber Command, and recruit the best and brightest Americans to serve in this crucial area.
Let us never forget that our military is comprised of heroic people. We must also ensure that we have the best medical care, education and support for our military service members and their families – both when they serve, and when they return to civilian life.