Pubdate: Thu, 23 Jan 2003
Source: Associated Press (Wire)
Copyright: 2003 Associated Press
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Hutchinson, Asa)


WASHINGTON -The Senate on Thursday confirmed Asa Hutchinson as 
undersecretary of the new Homeland Security Department, where his 
responsibilities will range from border control to aviation security.

Hutchinson is currently head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. His 
voice-vote approval came hours after he was approved by the Senate Commerce 
Committee, a day after the Senate approved former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom 
Ridge to head the department and a day before the agency formally comes 
into being.

The creation of the department is the biggest federal reorganization in 
more than half a century.

Hutchinson, 52, will be in charge of border and transportation security, 
overseeing such agencies as the Customs Service, the Transportation 
Security Administration and the federal law enforcement training center.

The new department, as it takes shape over the coming year, will pull 
together 170,000 civil servants from 22 agencies, also including the 
Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Federal Emergency Management 
Agency, the Coast Guard and other security-related offices.

Hutchinson was elected to the House in 1996, winning the northwest Arkansas 
seat previously held by his brother Tim, who successfully ran for senator 
that year. He was one of the House members who unsuccessfully argued for 
President Clinton's conviction and removal from office in the Senate's 1999 
impeachment trial.

In 2001, President Bush named Hutchinson to head the DEA.

At confirmation hearings Wednesday, members of the Senate Commerce 
Committee urged Hutchinson to move quickly to improve port and air cargo 
security, bolster border patrols and improve coordination with state and 
local officials.

He said he would "make sure there is a clear chain of command and a clear 
flow of information."

On Friday the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee is to hear testimony 
from Navy Secretary Gordon England, nominated by the president to be 
Ridge's deputy.
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