Senate confirms Homeland Security deputy
© Getty

The Senate approved Elaine Duke on Tuesday to serve as the deputy secretary for the Department of Homeland Security. 

Senators voted 85-14 to approve Duke to serve as the No. 2 official at the department.

She was expected to easily win confirmation after lawmakers allowed her to skip an initial 60-vote procedural vote that Democrats have used to slow down other Trump nominees. 

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonA pandemic of hyper-hypocrisy is infecting American politics Sen. Ron Johnson hoping for Democratic 'gridlock' on reconciliation package Republicans' mantra should have been 'Stop the Spread' MORE (R-Wis.), the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, praised Duke ahead of the vote, noting that she had “overwhelming bipartisan support.”


“I am pleased that we will be sending to DHS a career public servant whose experience and management skills will immediately assist Secretary Kelly and the mission of the department to defend our homeland,” he said. 

Duke was approved through the committee by a voice vote, though she faced questions from Democrats about Trump's plans to build a physical wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

She told lawmakers during her hearing that DHS is preparing a cost-benefit analysis of the wall. 

Trump included a $1.5-billion request to help pay for part of the border wall in a defense supplemental bill he sent to Congress last month. 

She also appeared open to using technology, rather than the physical wall Trump has proposed, if analysis points to it as a better alternative. 

“I think that we should test things before we deploy them,” Duke said. “We have to test not only are they effective in securing the border but are they sustainable.”

Duke served as a former undersecretary of management at DHS under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama

The deputy secretary of Homeland Security is the chief operating officer in charge of DHS. In the absence of the secretary, the deputy secretary would take the position of acting secretary.