TSA head rules himself out for top DHS job  

TSA head rules himself out for top DHS job  
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The top Senate-confirmed official at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has ruled himself out of contention to succeed acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan.

Transportation Security Administrator David Pekoske, who has been assigned as the senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary under McAleenan, told DHS officials he wants to return to his role as head of TSA, The Hill has learned.

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The two officials in contention to replace McAleenan are acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli and Chief Operating Officer and Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan, according to a DHS official with knowledge of the situation.

President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE announced McAleenan's departure last Friday, saying he would nominate a new secretary this week.

McAleenan was Trump's fourth Homeland Security secretary, and the second to hold the job on an acting basis.

Previously, Elaine DukeElaine Costanzo DukeBiden picks first Latino to lead Homeland Security Appeals court sides with Trump over drawdown of immigrant protections Trump mulled selling Puerto Rico, former aide says MORE was acting secretary after the resignation of John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE, but she formally held the deputy secretary role that Pekoske performed as a senior official.

The deputy secretary is first in line to perform the duties of secretary in case of vacancy, according to DHS regulations.

Trump in February said he likes having acting cabinet members, as it gives him more flexibility.

Cuccinelli is not expected to be confirmed by the Senate if nominated.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE has expressed his distaste for the former Virginia attorney general, who once ran a PAC that funded a primary challenger against McConnell.