Senate readies vote on Trump's acting DHS chief pick -- for a different role
Posted November 5, 2019 6:11 p.m. EST
CNN — The Senate is aiming to hold a vote on the nomination of Chad Wolf, the incoming acting Homeland Security secretary, early next week for the post he currently serves in at the Department of Homeland Security, according to a congressional staffer familiar with the plans.
Wolf was nominated by President Donald Trump in February to serve as undersecretary for the Office of Strategy, Policy and Plans at DHS, a role he currently fills in an acting capacity. He is still awaiting Senate confirmation for the position.
The latest push to get Wolf confirmed comes after Trump seemingly named him the acting Homeland Security secretary.
Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Friday, Trump was asked about the vacancy.
"Is Chad Wolf going to be your new DHS secretary?" Trump was asked by a reporter.
"Well, he's right now acting and we'll see what happens," Trump said. "We have great people there."
White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley told reporters that current acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan would be leaving on Veterans Day and Wolf would then serve as acting secretary.
Last month, McAleenan submitted his resignation to the White House. McAleenan has continued to helm the department — the third largest in the federal government — as the White House chose his successor.
But before Wolf takes the job, the Senate is trying to usher forward Wolf's nomination for the undersecretary role. The Washington Post first reported on the plans.
Wolf has faced resistance from Democrats in the past. During his Senate confirmation hearing for the undersecretary role, Wolf faced questions over his role in the administration's zero-tolerance policy that led to thousands of children being separated from their parents at the border.
When asked if he had concerns about the policy at the time, Wolf said, "My job wasn't to determine whether it was the right or wrong policy. My job, at the time, was to ensure that the secretary had all the information."
In July, Sen. Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat who sits on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said she would delay the nominations of two Homeland Security nominees, including Wolf, citing "inhumane and substandard" conditions for children at the department's facilities, according to her office at the time.
It's unclear whether he'll face similar pushback when the Senate votes and if that will stall his ascension to acting Homeland Security secretary.