Senate Confirms Johnson to lead DHS.
By a vote of 78 to 16, the U.S. Senate voted Monday to confirm Jeh Johnson as secretary of homeland security.
President Obama nominated Johnson two months ago. He will be responsible for border security, disaster preparation and response, immigration control, cyber security, infrastructure protection, and aviation security.
Rand Beers has been serving as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security since mid-August, when Janet Napolitano left to become president of the University of California system.
Johnson, 56, will be the first African-American to lead DHS.
He was the Pentagon's top lawyer between 2009 and 2012 and served as general counsel of the Air Force from 1998 to 2001. Previously, he served as a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
The DHS has 14 presidentially appointed positions that are being held by career civil servants, including Customs and Border Protection. President Obama has nominated White House drug czar and former Seattle police commissioner Gil Kerlikowski for the CBP position, but no confirmation hearing has been scheduled yet.
Porcari joins Parsons Brinckherhoff.
John D. Porcari, who resigned last week as U.S. deputy secretary of transportation, has been named senior vice president and national director of strategic consulting at Parsons Brinckerhoff, a global engineering and construction management firm.
As head of the company's strategic consulting group, he will work with owners, operators and developers of transportation infrastructure to solve their needs.
Porcari held the number two spot at the Department of Transportation since 2009, managing the daily functions of a department with a $77 billion annual budget and 55,000 employees.
Porcari twice served as secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, from 2007 to 2009 and from 1999 to 2003, managing a state agency responsible for integrated highway,transit, aviation, port, bridge and tunnel authority, and motor vehicle administration components.
From 2003 to 2007, Porcari was vice president for administrative affairs at the University of Maryland, serving as chief administrative officer and chief financial officer for the main campus of the university system of Maryland.
Mortimer Downey, a former deputy secretary of transportation during the Clinton administration, also works as a consultant to Parsons Brinckerhoff.
TTIP talks continue in Washington.
The third round of negotiations between the United States and European Union on the major free trade agreement began Monday in Washington.
Public advocacy groups continued to oppose the direction of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, saying that efforts to minimize indirect trade barriers by coordinating regulatory approaches will gut health, environmental and consumer protections to benefit corporations.
"Big business is clear about what this means. Giant corporations hope to use TAFTA (Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement) as a way to roll back or stall a vast swath of consumer and environmental regulatory protections in the United States and Europe — involving everything from food safety to privacy, consumer finance to chemical safety," Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said in a statement.
The Sierra Club sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht on behalf of almost 200 organizations opposing the broad investment rights granted to corporations in the proposed trade pact
. The provision would grant foreign corporations the power to directly challenge governmental policies and actions that they allege reduce profits. Such cases would be heard in private tribunals for unlimited cash compensation.
The coalition also called for continued protection of privacy rights so that personal information cannot be easily shared between private databases and governments, especially at a time of deep distrust caused by revelations of the National Security Agency conducting electronic surveillance of digital communications in the United States and Europe.