Former top Pentagon lawyer Jeh C. Johnson has been confimed as the new 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.

Johnson is replacing Janet Napolitano as head of the Homeland Security Department. About 40 percent of the senior leadership positions are now vacant, and Johnson said filling those posts was among his top priorities.

Johnson was the Defense Department's general counsel until 2012, when he returned to private practice.

He is also a 1979 graduate of Morehouse College and a 1982 graduate of Columbia Law School.