WASHINGTON — Democrats used their newly initiated lower threshold for defeating filibusters Monday to win Senate confirmation of President Barack Obama’s nomination of former top Pentagon lawyer Jeh C. Johnson to be Secretary of Homeland Security.
On a 57-37 vote, Democrats broke a GOP blockade against Johnson before the Senate minutes later confirmed him on a 78-16 vote. Until Democrats unilaterally changed the Senate’s filibuster threshold on presidential nominations, it would have taken 60 votes to clear Johnson for a final vote.
Johnson, the former Pentagon general counsel, was co-chair of the Pentagon working group in 2010 that drafted the Department of Defense report preparing for legislative the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the former ban on openly gay service members.
He had also been charged with implementing the legal framework for open service in the military, and issued the guidance in September 2011 allowing same-sex weddings to be conducted on military bases.
In a statement, Obama praised the Senate for confirming Johnson, calling him “a critical member of my national security team.”
“And he helped to shape some of our most successful national security policies and strategies,” the president added.
Obama has in the past praised Johnson’s role in the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”