Foreign affairs imposed on the Trump administration. Treasury moved to sanction North Koreans believed to have military ties. President Donald Trump said the U.S. would take unilateral action in response to Pyonyang threats. In the Middle East, the administration pivoted from the Assad-must-go stance on Syria, then back again after the Assad regime launched a chemical weapons attack on Syrian rebels. This all occurred just before the arrival of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Mar-A-Lago.
The Homeland Security Department received the first deputy secretary to be Senate confirmed for the Trump administration. Elaine Duke joins DHS with unanimous consent. Duke also served as DHS undersecretary for management during the George W. Bush administration. Former Defense official Dr. Lynda Davis joined Veterans Affairs as chief veterans experience officer.
Also at DHS, a key Trump ally took a page from the previous administration. Secretary John Kelly promised a top-to-bottom review of department operations, while promising to let employees do their jobs. He praised prior Secretary Jeh Johnson’s unity of effort initiative saying Duke, will take the lead on completing the program to meld DHS components into a more unified agency.
The Trump administration got advice from Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.). They encouraged the administration to renew efforts to modernize federal information technology. Moran and Udall, both members of the Appropriations Committee, advised White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner to use the new Office of American Innovation to focus on improving and securing federal systems.
Meanwhile, Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.) asked the Government Accountability Office to review the effects of the hiring freeze, which is supposed to end on April 18.