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Sergeant-at-Arms Selection Wins Bipartisan Plaudits

Former Secret Service agent Paul Irving won bipartisan praise Monday after Speaker John Boehner tapped him to serve as the next House Sergeant-at-Arms.

The Ohio Republican’s nominee will be confirmed by a vote of the full House on Jan. 17, the scheduled opening day of the second session of the 112th Congress.

“Paul Irving’s 25-year career in the U.S. Secret Service earned him the strongest possible recommendation for this important post,” Boehner said in a statement announcing his pick for the chief law enforcement officer of the House. “His high level of federal law enforcement experience, including a number of assignments working closely with Congress, will be invaluable to the House.”

Irving has a background similar to that of Bill Livingood, the current Sergeant-at-Arms who plans to step down early next year after 17 years at the post. Livingood is a 33-year veteran of the Secret Service who told Roll Call he overlapped with Irving for about three years at the agency.

According to Boehner’s statement, Irving began his career as a clerk in the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. In 1983, he joined the Secret Service as a special agent.

He went on to serve in a supervisory position in the Secret Service on the presidential protective detail and then assumed the post of deputy assistant director of the Secret Service for Congressional affairs and assistant director for government and public affairs.

In 2003, Irving served in the Executive Office of the President as a member of the White House transition team that helped bring into being the Department of Homeland Security.

He retired from the Secret Service in 2008 as assistant director for administration.

House Administration Chairman Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) and ranking member Robert Brady (D-Pa.) praised the pick.

“His impressive credentials … make him a great candidate to carry out the important responsibility of ensuring the security of this chamber,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement.

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Irving was selected after conversations with “top enforcement officials.”

“The Speaker sought an individual with high-level federal law enforcement experience, ideally one who has worked closely with Congress,” Steel added.

Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, said the California Democrat “recently met with Mr. Irving and supports Speaker Boehner’s decision to appoint him.”

Livingood, who generally does not speak with the press, also weighed in on the choice.

“It was a leadership decision, so I really wasn’t involved. But would I recommend him? The answer is yes. I’m very proud of him,” he said.

Livingood said he would be available to do whatever he can to help with the transition.

“My job is to see that there’s an orderly transition and that he learns everything that I can possibly impart. … But as I told him, I’m available anytime. I don’t care what day it is, 24 hours a day. And I had that same guidance when I came here,” Livingood said.

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