Janet Napolitano, U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Janet Napolitano will resign her position as Homeland Security Secretary to become the next president of the University of California system, according to the department. Napolitano will be the first female to head the historic UC system, one of the most prestigious public universities systems in the world.

Napolitano has served as the head of Homeland Security since the beginning of President Obama’s first term. Napolitano was serving as governor of Arizona when Obama appointed her. It is normal for people in cabinet positions to step down after several years in office.

The timing of this resignation is interesting because Senate Democrats are currently debating a change to the Senate rules. As early as next week Senate Democrats could use the so-called “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster for executive branch nominees.

If Democrats actually go through with this change it would make it significantly easier for President Obama to choose the replacement he thinks would best serve in the role, without worrying about trying to appease Senate Republicans. Obama will be able to select a nominee based on merit and not their ability to get past a Republican filibuster or mere foot drag.

The might even be the start of several resignations if the rules are changed.

Photo by Center for American Progress under Creative Commons license