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Chad Wolf. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf defied a subpoena on Thursday to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee about worldwide threats to the U.S.

The big picture: The committee subpoenaed Wolf after he reneged on a commitment to testify on Sept. 8 and claimed it would be inappropriate to do so until he has been confirmed by the Senate.

  • The appearance would have come at a time of heightened scrutiny for Wolf, after a federal judge ruled he is likely unlawfully serving in his role and barred him from imposing new asylum restrictions.
  • Wolf is also facing a whistleblower report that claims he ordered officials to "cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference" and instead focus on China and Iran.

What they're saying: "Mr. Wolf may attempt to evade oversight and the Department may try silly stunts to distract from this hearing, but we will not waver. The stakes are just too high," committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in an opening statement.

  • "Indeed, former department officials — the administration’s own political appointees — are coming forward to sound the alarm that our Nation’s security is being compromised in favor of the President’s political interests," he added.

The other side: A DHS spokesperson tweeted that Democrats on the committee refused the agency's "multiple offers to have a senior department official," including acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, appear on Wolf's behalf.

  • Cuccinelli condemned the committee's Democrats in a news release on Wednesday, writing that "pending nominees don’t testify to other committees as their nomination is pending."

Go deeper

Dec 3, 2020 - World

U.S. blocks cotton imports from China's Xinjiang region over forced labor

A farmer harvests cotton in a field in October in Hami, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China. Photo: Pulati Niyazi/VCG via Getty Images

The Trump administration announced Wednesday the U.S. will block imports of cotton products from the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China because of forced labor concerns.

Why it matters: The plan to seize the cotton shipments from a powerful Chinese quasi-military group is the latest U.S. response to China's detention of over 1 million Uighur Muslims in internment camps.

12 mins ago - Health

CDC looks at tougher testing rules for international travelers

Travelers with their luggage arrive at a COVID-19 testing location at the airport in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 23, 2021. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday night that it is working to impose stricter testing requirements for international travelers due to the spread of the new Omicron variant.

The big picture: The new rules would require all international travelers, regardless of vaccination status, to show a negative test taken a day before their flight to the U.S. Currently, the CDC says fully vaccinated travelers are allowed to show a test taken no more than three days before their departure, AP reports.

Republicans threaten to shut down government over vaccine mandates

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) in the Capitol in November 2020. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate are planning to force a government shutdown Friday to deny funding needed to enforce the Biden administration's vaccine mandates on the private sector, according to Politico.

Why it matters: Congress has until the end of the week to pass a stopgap measure to extend funding into 2022, though objection from a small group of Republicans could shut down the government.

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