Following his decision to rescind Ronald Vitiello’s nomination to serve as Director of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the President announced on Sunday evening that Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen would resign and that Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan would step in as Acting Secretary. Secret Service Director Randolph ‘Tex’ Alles, who reports to the Secretary of Homeland Security, was also removed from his position. Career USSS officer James Murray will take over next month. Upon the news, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on Alles to testify before Congress about security vulnerabilities at Mar-a-Lago after a Chinese national arrested with counterintelligence equipment. Later in the week, outgoing Secretary Nielsen said that Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Claire Grady had also sent the President a resignation letter, effective Wednesday. TSA Administrator David Pekoske will temporarily step into that role, with Deputy Administrator Patricia Cogswell managing TSA’s day-to-day operations.
Elsewhere, the President attended a credentialing ceremony for new ambassadors on Monday. The administration also took steps this week to rollback an Obama-era policy under which the Cuban Baseball Federation was considered separate from the Cuban government, enabling Cubans to play Major League Baseball in the United States.
The Senate considered a number of nominations on the floor this week, including David Bernhardt’s nomination to serve as Secretary of the Interior. Senators voted 56-41 today to confirm Bernhardt, who has been leading the Department in an acting capacity since former Secretary Ryan Zinke resigned.
Net Neutrality, Disaster Aid
The House spent most of an abbreviated work week on the Save the Internet Act, the Democratic proposal to restore Obama-era net neutrality regulations (see below for additional details). Leadership also unveiled a new $17.2 billion disaster aid package that adds $3 billion for Midwest flooding. While the impasse between the House and the Senate over funds for Puerto Rico hurricane recovery continues, senators from states recently impacted by natural disasters will meet with the President this afternoon to discuss a potential path forward. The House adjourned early for the Democratic policy retreat on Thursday and Friday in Virginia.
Read more in our Emerging Technologies Washington Update.