(CNN)The Senate is moving ahead with Chad Wolf’s nomination for Secretary of Homeland Security amid concerns about the legitimacy of his appointment, with a full committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Wolf, who has served for 10 months as acting Homeland Security secretary
, was formally nominated by President Donald Trump on September 10.
The nomination hearing comes as courts and the Government Accountability Office have cast doubt on the validity of Wolf’s appointment to lead DHS. Over the objections of the department, the GAO stood by its August opinion
that Wolf and his deputy Ken Cuccinelli were appointed as part of an “invalid order of succession
In response to the GAO and federal court filings, the department affirmed and ratified previous DHS actions carried out during Wolf’s tenure as acting secretary, according to a Federal Register notice
Wolf wrote that the ratification was done “out an abundance of caution,” given the challenges to his appointment. The conflict over his role stems from a previous change in the department’s order of succession.
On Wednesday, he will be introduced by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas at the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing
DHS hasn’t had a Senate-confirmed leader since Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s forced departure
in April 2019. Trump has repeatedly lavished praise on Wolf. “Thank you very much, Chad. You’re right in the heart of it, and you’ve got some big things coming,” Trump said at an August event. “Good job.”
Last week, Wolf was a no-show
at a House hearing on threats to the US homeland after a feud between the department and the committee over scheduling. DHS cited Wolf’s nomination as reason for not attending the House panel hearing. Instead, Wolf participated in a meeting with Senate staff regarding his nomination to be secretary. It’s unclear if the staff meeting conflicted with the timing of the House hearing.
The move angered Democratic Chairman Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, who denounced Wolf’s decision to defy a subpoena
to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee.
“As the person running the Department of Homeland Security, Mr. Wolf should be here to testify, as secretaries of Homeland Security have done before. Instead, we have an empty chair — an appropriate metaphor for the Trump administration’s dereliction on so many of these critical homeland security issues,” Thompson said at the hearing.
Despite the upcoming hearing, it’s unclear whether Wolf will get a Senate vote before the November presidential election.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote
of Wolf that “given his past actions, he’d be an awful choice.”
When Trump announced Wolf’s nomination, the committee’s Democratic ranking member Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan said in a statement that given Wolf’s record since assuming his role, he has “serious questions and concerns about his suitability for the job,” saying the department “needs qualified, principled leaders to safeguard” the nation.
Peters will carefully consider any nomination that comes before the committee, according to a Peters’ aide. The ranking member previously opposed Wolf’s nomination to serve as DHS Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans.
Wolf grew up in Mississippi and Texas and worked for a lobbying firm for more than 10 years before returning to the federal government at the start of the Trump administration.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the day the hearing will be held.