Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned April 7th after meeting with President Trump at the White House in what appears to be a complete overhaul of DHS. The president wants to move the Department into a “tougher” direction. Current Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan is temporarily replacing Nielsen. This temporary appointment is a move by President Trump to have a strong ally in the department with a tougher stance on border security, while also searching for a permanent replacement. McAleenan’s views on border security mirror Trumps more closely than Nielsen’s. By replacing her, the president has a stronger block of allies in the department to push for immigration reform and to potentially shut down the border, which he threatened to do last week.
During the hearing, Pekoske outlined his desire to replace current X-Ray technology with newer CT 3-D imaging technology. The CT system, which is undergoing currently limited trials in Phoenix and Boston airports, is a largely untested but promising technology. Throughout the hearing, Pekoske strongly defended the new CT technology, suggesting that the only reason why it had not been implemented is that of a lack of funding. Pekoske also highlighted the TSA’s desire to incorporate biometric data including face scans and fingerprint data in order to verify passenger identity and collaborate more efficiently with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
Overall, the message of the hearing remained that Pekoske wanted more funding to achieve goals relating to security and workforce. As Democrats and Republicans continue to fight over budgeting issues, it remains to be seen whether or not the TSA will be able to improve its abysmal performance without incurring a larger expense on the budget.