After receiving Senate confirmation for an undersecretary position earlier in the day, Chad Wolf was sworn in and placed as the next Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Since January 2017, there has been a mix of Senate-confirmed secretaries: John Kelly and Kristjen Nielsen; and acting secretaries: Elaine Duke, Kevin McAleenan, and now, Chad Wolf.
It is also reported that current Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli moves to Acting Deputy Secretary of DHS, and Mark Koumans, current Deputy Director, moves to Director of USCIS.
In related news, Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs leadership, Senators Johnson (R-WI) and Peters (D-MI), sent a letter to President Trump last week drawing attention to current vacancies at DHS. They wrote:
Currently, 7 of the 18 DHS offices requiring Senate confirmation, including the Department’s three top positions, are vacant with no nominee pending. Many of these positions have remained vacant for months, and some for years, without a formal nominee for the Senate to consider. This widespread use of temporary leadership—individuals who, though perhaps qualified, do not serve with the imprimatur of having been confirmed by the Senate—makes it more difficult for the Department to achieve its long-term strategic objectives. Independent government watchdogs, experts, and current and former DHS employees, have recognized the importance of Senate-confirmed leaders and warned of the dangers of pervasive vacancies to government accountability and national security.
Many observers note the uniqueness of the Senators’ bi-partisan plea to the president. As of this writing, we have not seen a White House response.
Please consult with your GT attorney with specific questions about this blog post, and please check back, as this report and others will be updated as events warrant.