TSA chief to temporarily fill No. 2 post at Homeland Security

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske will fill the role of deputy Homeland Security secretary on a temporary basis, the department announced Thursday.

Pekoske replaces Claire Grady, the former acting No. 2 at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), who resigned Tuesday amid a sweeping shakeup of DHS's top leadership.

Grady’s resignation cleared the way for Kevin McAleenan to become acting Homeland Security secretary, since by law Grady was next in line to fill the role after President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Vulnerable Democrats tout legislative wins, not impeachment Trump appears to set personal record for tweets in a day MORE’s ouster of former Secretary Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenTrump puts Kushner in charge of overseeing border wall construction: report Hillicon Valley: Google to limit political ad targeting | Senators scrutinize self-driving car safety | Trump to 'look at' Apple tariff exemption | Progressive lawmakers call for surveillance reforms | House panel advances telecom bills Minority lawmakers call out Google for hiring former Trump DHS official MORE.

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“Administrator Pekoske brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the department,” McAleenan, who officially assumed his new job on Wednesday, said in a statement. “I look forward to working with him to meet the homeland security challenges facing our nation.”

The White House engineered the reshuffle at DHS amid frustration over the department’s response to the spike in migrant families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, which the administration has labeled a crisis.

But the purge has thinned the upper ranks of DHS’s leadership, sparking concern among Republicans on Capitol Hill about its ability to carry out its sweeping missions on immigration, cybersecurity, disaster response and securing the nation’s travel system.

Pekoske was confirmed in August 2017 to lead TSA for a five-year term. Acting Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell will oversee day-to-day operations at TSA while Pekoske fills the No. 2 job at DHS, McAleenan said.

DHS is currently without a Senate-confirmed secretary, deputy secretary, under secretary for management, Customs and Border Protection commissioner, Immigration and Customs Enforcement director, Federal Emergency Management Administration administrator and now TSA administrator.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Francis Cissna and the department’s top legal counsel, John Mitnick, are also said to be on the chopping block.

Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles was also ousted, and James Murray was tapped as his replacement.

White House senior adviser Stephen Miller is believed to be behind the personnel changes, as he has pushed the administration to adopt tougher policies on asylum claims and family detention in order to address the situation at the border.