Bennie Thompson

Legality of Wolf, Cuccinelli appointments to DHS questioned
Key House Democrats cite new documents in request for review

Chad Wolf, seen here during an Oct. 29 White House task force meeting, was sworn in Wednesday as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The leaders of the House Oversight and Homeland Security panels on Friday challenged the legality of recent top appointments at the Department of Homeland Security, including newly installed acting secretary, Chad Wolf.

Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, and Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., the acting Oversight and Reform Committee chairwoman, have asked the U.S. Comptroller General to conduct an “expedited review” to determine whether the Trump administration acted legally when it appointed both Wolf and his predecessor, Kevin McAleenan, as acting DHS secretary. They also question Wolf naming Ken Cuccinelli to serve as deputy director.

Suddenly, Ken Cuccinelli is No. 2 at DHS
The immigration hardliner became acting deputy secretary after Chad Wolf sworn in as acting DHS chief

Ken Cuccinelli is moving into the role of acting deputy secretary at the Homeland Security Department. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Shortly after being sworn in as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf — who the Senate confirmed as the agency's policy undersecretary just hours earlier — conducted his first order of business. 

He moved Ken Cuccinelli, a favorite of immigration hardliners, into the No. 2 position. 

Chad Wolf sworn in as acting DHS chief
Wolf takes over just hours after Senate confirmed him as undersecretary

Chad Wolf is the fifth person to lead the Department of Homeland Security in less than three years. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Chad Wolf was sworn in Wednesday as acting director of the Department of Homeland Security, the fifth person to head the agency in the Trump administration.

A DHS spokesperson confirmed Wolf's new position to CQ Roll Call by email.

Imitation Bernie, peeking on camera and too many Alaskans of the Week: Congressional Hits and Misses
Week of Nov. 4, 2019

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., leaves the Senate Republicans’ lunch in the Capitol on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Outgoing DHS chief McAleenan will stay on 'if necessary'
No successor formally tapped a day before McAleenan set to step down from role

Outgoing acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan, testifying here during House appropriations hearing in April, said he will stay beyond his scheduled last day of Oct. 31 if “necessary.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A day before he was set to step down as acting Homeland Security secretary, Kevin McAleenan said Wednesday that he would stay on the job “if necessary” since the White House has yet to tap his successor.

“I said in my resignation letter to the president that I would ensure a smooth transition and that remains my position. I want to make sure that it happens for the department,” he told lawmakers during a House Homeland Security Committee meeting.

Trump’s family separation policy amplified children’s trauma
Report: Zero tolerance policy ‘added to the trauma that children had already experienced’

House Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, D- Miss., said “President Trump’s zero tolerance and family separation policies inflicted massive pain and trauma on children and their families." (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Through its “zero tolerance policy” at the southwest border during 2018, which led to separation of migrant children from their parents, the Trump administration “added to the trauma that children had already experienced and put tremendous pressure on facility staff,” according to a report Wednesday by a government watchdog.

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General visited 45 of about 90 facilities holding migrant children in August and September of 2018 and conducted interviews with operators, medical coordinators, mental health clinicians and other staff. In the resulting report, these officials and practitioners described significant challenges in meeting the mental health needs of children in their care, who had been traumatized long before coming to the United States, then were re-traumatized by policies at the border and further aggravated by being kept in government custody for long periods of time.

Democrats target state elections with focus on election security
Supporting secretaries of state offices in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi in effort to expand voting rights

Democrats are supporting secretaries of state offices across the country to try to win a majority of those offices nationwide. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on Thursday launched a campaign to win secretaries of state races in Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi this November by pointing to their focus on boosting election security and expanding voting rights, compared with Republican officials.

“The office of the secretary of State is more important than ever,” Alex Padilla, the secretary of state for California and president of the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, told CQ Roll Call. “Every election cycle is an opportunity to elect Democratic secretaries of State, but also to ensure security and accessibility” for voters.

House Democrats to visit cities roiled by white supremacist violence
The ‘action plan’ could be aimed at quieting concerns that lawmakers will lose momentum over the August recess

Rep. Nanette Barragan, D-Calif., serves on the House Homeland Security Committee. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee will visit cities roiled by violence in the coming month “to address the threat of domestic terrorism” by white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Chairman Bennie Thompson laid out the plan in a media release sent Tuesday night. The release comes amid a push from some Democrats to cut the August recess short and convene a session of Congress on the matter.

Gun safety theatrics could come to Congress during Tuesday pro forma sessions
Neither House nor Senate expected to return any time soon

Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick J. Toomey says an immediate vote on his background checks bill would be “counterproductive.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 4:45 p.m. | Democratic lawmakers itching for action on gun safety legislation will get their first chances to make some noise on Tuesday.

That’s when the House and Senate are scheduled to begin holding pro forma sessions, with no legislative business expected in either chamber until a full week after Labor Day in September. However, there’s a long history of members of Congress using the brief moments when the floors of the two chambers open for business during the August recess to engage in a bit of theater.

Louisiana police officers fired over AOC post on Facebook
Ocasio-Cortez says Trump’s rhetoric that has incited threats is an ‘authoritarian’ tool to silence critics

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., responds to reporters questions in Rayburn Building about derogatory comments made by President Trump about her and other freshmen members last week. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

A police officer in Louisiana has been fired for writing on Facebook that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez should be shot. 

The police chief in Gretna, a New Orleans suburb, announced at a news conference Monday that Officer Charlie Rispoli was fired for writing the post and another officer, Angelo Varisco, was fired for “liking” it, WBRZ reported.