White House Chad Wolf, according to three people familiar.
The White House plans to name Homeland Security official Chad Wolf acting secretary, according to three people familiar with the situation.
Wolf will replace acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, whose last day in the job was supposed to be Thursday. McAleenan will now stay until Nov. 7, according to one of the people with knowledge of the matter.
President Donald Trump called Wolf a few days ago and told him to expect to be appointed, a person familiar with the plan told POLITICO. Two other officials said that the White House has been speaking to reluctant GOP senators — including Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — and asking them not to oppose Wolf’s appointment to be undersecretary of the department.
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The search has been complicated by a federal law that requires acting agency chiefs to have served under a Senate-confirmed secretary for 90 days. Grassley said this week there is no legal way to name someone acting DHS secretary if that person hasn’t been confirmed in any capacity by the Senate. Wolf has not been confirmed in his present position as undersecretary for policy.
White House officials also told senators they are considering nominating Customs and Border Protection chief Mark Morgan to hold the position permanently but that a final decision has not been reached. The White House had considered nominating acting Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli for the job, but learned that 20 senators opposed him, dooming his nomination, according to a person involved in the discussions.
Wolf has received some opposition from lawmakers because he was a registered lobbyist for the National Association of Software and Service Companies, which represents Indian and U.S. companies that aim to keep the H-1B visa program for foreign workers with exceptional or unusual skills.
Several people within the administration and in ideologically aligned groups expressed concern that Wolf would not be tough enough on immigration to satisfy Trump. Privately, they worry that Wolf will end up clashing with Trump in the same was his predecessors did, creating more dysfunction within the beleaguered agency.
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. McAleenan offered earlier this week to remain in the acting job for another week if the White House did not name a successor before his departure. A DHS spokesperson said McAleenan is “very adamant” about ensuring a smooth transition.
“This is an outstanding pick by the President,” said a senior administration official. “Chad is uniquely qualified to lead the Department and he’s widely respected within DHS and the interagency community for his experience and vision.”