Senate GOP eases Wolf’s path to becoming Homeland Security secretary

Overcoming a pair of whistleblower reports by employees alleging misconduct and neglect, as well as skepticism over the legality of his current appointment, Chad Wolf faced little resistance at his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become Homeland Security secretary.

Wolf, who has been serving as the department head in an acting capacity for almost a year, was given a wide berth by Republicans on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to explain recent controversies his department has battled. Despite various concerns that panel Democrats raised about Wolf’s record, the swift, largely frictionless round of questioning. A committee meeting has been scheduled for Sept. 30 to vote on the nomination, which would then head to the Senate floor.

Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis., set the tone of the hearing by congratulating Wolf and his department for their actions related to COVID-19, illegal immigration and federal property amid recent mass protests against police brutality — all areas in which Wolf has been criticized by Democrats, civil liberties groups and immigrant advocates.

“From my standpoint, they’ve done a very extraordinary job dealing with a very difficult situation,” Johnson said in his opening remarks. “What’s unfortunate for someone like acting Secretary Wolf … not only is it a thankless task, but one that opens you up to character assassination as well.” 

Johnson ceded his time early in the hearing to allow Wolf to respond to a number of issues, among them allegations in two recent whistleblower reports from department employees. One alleged that Wolf and his second-in-command interfered in intelligence matters to protect the image of President Donald Trump, downplay the threat of violence by white supremacists and promote a restrictive immigration agenda.