Carper Statement on GAO Decision Confirming Wolf, Cuccinelli Ineligible for Appointed Posts at DHS

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), a senior member of the Senator Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) released the following statement regarding a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), a nonpartisan watchdog, confirming that Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli were invalidly appointed to their positions and are, in fact, ineligible to serve in those positions. 

For almost a year now, Senator Carper has been calling attention to the potential consequences for an administration that routinely tries to bypass Congress and our system of checks and balances in order to insert unqualified or unconfirmed individuals at the highest levels of DHS.

“I know that Donald Trump may not like that our system adheres to certain laws and procedures, but, thankfully, GAO has reminded him of that today. Long before Mr. Wolf’s appointment to serve Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, a position to which he was never nominated and never confirmed, I was sounding the alarm about the President’s consistent failure to adhere to the process clearly outlined in the Constitution and his repeated attempts to ignore the Senate’s authority.

“My concerns had nothing to do with my respect for the individuals appointed to serve in those roles. Rather, I worried there would eventually be serious consequences for the President’s unprecedented and brazen dismissal of our system of checks and balances—and for the Department’s failure to ensure its leaders’ decisions were made on solid legal footing. Our federal government, especially an agency as consequential and vast as the Department of Homeland Security, cannot be run with the same chaos and recklessness as one of his failed businesses.

“Last year, I voted against Mr. Wolf’s nomination to serve as Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans based on these concerns. As I said at the time, the Administration easily could have protected the work of the men and women serving in the Department by simply sending qualified nominees to the Senate for an up-or-down vote, just as every previous Administration has done since the Department was created nearly eighteen years ago.

“Instead, Mr. Wolf is the fifth individual to run the Department of Homeland Security in less than three years, and the third to serve in an acting position. His deputy, Mr. Cuccinelli, has never been nominated or confirmed to any position within the Department. Today, 11 of the top 18 positions at the Department are filled by individuals serving in acting roles, or are vacant entirely. As I have said repeatedly, this is no way to run an agency, especially one with a mission as critical as DHS. It’s no surprise that today, the independent investigators at GAO reached the same conclusion.

“I’m pleased that this matter has now been referred to the DHS Inspector General, and I would urge him and his team to review this report expeditiously. Not only does this continual lack of permanent leadership compromise our national security, it puts even the most routine actions of the Department in legal jeopardy.”