Ken Cuccinelli of the Department of Homeland Security testifies during a House Oversight subcommittee last month. (Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Democratic lawmakers are disputing the legality of Chad Wolf's appointment as acting Homeland Security secretary and immigration hardliner Ken Cuccinelli as his deputy, asking the U.S. Comptroller General for an expedited review. 

Why it matters: If the argument set forth by two House committee chairs on Friday prevails, it could give Democrats a path to try to block the ascension of Cuccinelli, or more broadly to seek to invalidate months of agency actions.

Between the lines: Before leaving office, former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen changed an internal policy determining who is next in line if the current agency head can no longer serve in that position.

  • The lawmakers are arguing that her successor, acting secretary Kevin McAleenan, may have never legally served in that role — and that even if he did, his appointment may have legally expired before he left the job.
  • While Nielsen changed who was next in line in case of "disaster or catastrophic emergency," she did not make any changes to the line of succession in case of "death, resignation, or inability to perform," according to the letter.
  • Meanwhile, under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, they argue that McAleenan's acting position may have expired days before he changed the same policy to allow Wolf to become acting Secretary. If Wolf's appointment isn't legally valid, they argue, he lacks the authority to elevate Cuccinelli.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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  2. Business: New state unemployment filings fall.
  3. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  4. Health: FDA approves Gilead's remdesivir as a coronavirus treatment How the pandemic might endMany U.S. deaths were avoidable.
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Early voting eclipses 2016 total with 12 days until election

People stand in line to vote early in Fairfax, Virginia in September. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Americans have cast more than 47.1 million ballots in the 2020 presidential election, surpassing the total early-vote count for 2016 with 12 days left until Election Day, according to a Washington Post analysis of voting data.

Why it matters: The election is already underway, as many states have expanded early and mail-in voting options because of the coronavirus pandemic.

What to expect from the final debate of the 2020 election

Trump and Biden at the first debate. Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Image

Watch for President Trump to address Joe Biden as “the big guy” or “the chairman” at tonight's debate as a way of dramatizing the Hunter Biden emails. Hunter's former business partner Tony Bobulinski is expected to be a Trump debate guest.

The big picture: Trump's advisers universally view the first debate as a catastrophe — evidenced by a sharp plunge in Trump’s public and (more convincingly for them) private polling immediately following the debate.