Chad Wolf poised to take over DHS

The Senate confirmed Wolf as undersecretary for the Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans, clearing the way for him to advance to replace Kevin McAleenan as acting head of the Department of Homeland Security.

Image: Casimiro PT / Shutterstock
 

The Senate confirmed Chat Wolf Wednesday as undersecretary for the Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans by a mostly party-line vote of 54 to 41. The move clears the way for Wolf to replace Kevin McAleenan as acting head of the Department of Homeland Security.

Wolf has significant experience at DHS. He served as chief of staff under Kirstjen Nielsen and has held his current role on an acting basis since February of this year. Additionally, Wolf held senior posts at the Transportation Security Administration during the George W. Bush administration.

President Donald Trump has stated that Wolf would take over as acting secretary of DHS after McAleenan leaves – his departure was scheduled for Nov. 11.

Many Democrats have objected to the move to confirm Wolf to a senior position that makes him eligible to serve as acting secretary, bypassing a few more-senior officials.

"By confirming Chad Wolf to, in effect, serve as acting DHS Secretary, Senate Republicans have subverted the Senate’s constitutional duty to advise and consent and potentially robbed the Senate from ever voting on a permanent Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. Schumer criticized Wolf's "troubling ties" to Trump's immigration policy and said that "it is shameful that the Trump administration and Senate Republicans are stooping to this unacceptable game of musical chairs to find people to fill critical cabinet posts."

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, also complained about Wolf's ties to the White House and immigration policy advisor Stephen Miller.

"The seven months the Homeland Security Secretary position has remained vacant, and without a nominee, is far too long for a department charged with keeping the country secure," Thompson said. "DHS needs well qualified, permanent, Senate-confirmed leadership as soon as possible."

Even in an administration notable for vacancies in top jobs, DHS is especially bereft of Senate-confirmed officials in leadership roles.

Currently, DHS lacks a Senate-confirmed secretary, deputy security, general counsel, chief financial officer, undersecretary for management, undersecretary for science and technology, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. There are nominees for four of these posts in the pipeline, but still no permanent leader nominated for secretary, deputy secretary, general counsel or undersecretary for management.

On Nov. 1, when Trump indicated Wolf would serve as acting DHS head, he declined to answer whether Wolf would be nominated for the top job on a permanent basis.

"Well he's right now acting and we'll see what happens. We have great people in there," Trump said.

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