Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf announced his resignation Monday.

Key Points:

  • Wolf cited “court rulings regarding the validity of my authority,” among other factors, as his reason for stepping down. He said that FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor would fill in as acting secretary pending confirmation of a permanent replacement.
  • Wolf resigned with little more than a week before President-elect Joe Biden will take office. Biden announced in December that he would nominate Alejandro Mayorkas, a former Obama administration official, to lead DHS. Mayorkas’ appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

Background: Wolf took over as acting secretary in November 2019, but did not go through the Senate confirmation process because he was not initially nominated to the cabinet-level position. A Government Accountability Office report subsequently found that Wolf’s appointment as acting secretary was unlawful in violation of agency succession rules. A number of lawsuits challenged DHS regulations, memoranda and other policies that were issued during his tenure, and a number of courts concluded that he had been appointed improperly. Eventually, President Trump formally nominated Wolf as Secretary of Homeland Security; the president withdrew the nomination last week.

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