What others say: Administration needs to catch up on nominations

  • By Washington Post editorial
  • Wednesday, June 7, 2017 5:02pm
  • Opinion

President Trump sounded a bit like other newly arrived presidents on Monday when he complained on Twitter that Congress is holding up his appointments. “Dems are taking forever to approve my people, including Ambassadors. They are nothing but OBSTRUCTIONISTS! Want approvals,” he wrote. But if Mr. Trump really wants to understand the problem, he does not need to look all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue.

The fact is that while the Republican-controlled Senate is lagging, the main problem is that Mr. Trump is not nominating candidates for positions and has fallen seriously behind in staffing the government’s top ranks. According to the nonpartisan White House Transition Project, which has studied historical trends and uses several different metrics, Mr. Trump’s performance is the slowest in four decades on nominations, confirmations and standing up the critical leadership needed to run the country. At this point, the project reported, most administrations would have filled about 38 percent of the most critical positions in the government, but Mr. Trump has completed only about 14 percent. To see where the problem lies, look at the tracker maintained by The Post and the Partnership for Public Service, which shows that of 559 key positions requiring Senate confirmation, Mr. Trump has provided no nominee for 441, while 15 are awaiting nomination, 63 are formally nominated and 40 are confirmed. The biggest obstructionist is Mr. Trump.

For the relative few he has nominated, if Mr. Trump is so impatient with the Senate confirmation process, he should take it up with the members of his party who control the chamber. The White House Transition Project says the Senate has confirmed slightly less than half of Mr. Trump’s nominees. If there is dysfunction or delay, it is disingenuous to always point the finger at “Dems.”

Politics aside, the U.S. government today is hollowed out in the executive service, and this could prove a serious disadvantage in a crisis. Mr. Trump fired the director of the FBI but hasn’t come up with a replacement for James B. Comey. There is currently no presidentially appointed director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a bulwark against pandemic, nor a nominee for the assistant secretary of health and human services for preparedness and response, a key position to manage something such as another influenza outbreak. There are no U.S. attorneys to replace those forced out by Mr. Trump. Also alarming, Mr. Trump has yet to nominate a single assistant secretary of state for any region around the world, leaving in place acting officials who don’t have the sway of presidential appointees.

By placing a premium on loyalty, Mr. Trump from the start excluded many skilled and talented people from serving. He clearly has not made it a priority to catch up.

— The Washington Post,

June 6

More in Opinion

Former Democratic state Rep. Beth Kerttula holds up a sign reading “Vote No Con Con,” during a recent rally at the Dimond Courthouse Plaza in Juneau. Opposition to a constitutional convention, which could alter the Alaska State Constitution to allow for banning abortions was a frequent topic during the protest. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Alaska Voices: A constitutional convention would be doomed to fail

Principled compromise has given way to the unyielding demands of performative politicians

(Peter Segall / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: We’re at risk of losing our well-crafted constitution

Vote no for a constitutional convention in November.

Christina Whiting.
Point of View: Thanks to the Homer community for efforts to find and honor Duffy Murnane

The Duffy Memorial Bench Dedication was moving and healing.

Sticky notes filled out in response to the question “Why does Democracy and voting matter?” are photographed on Saturday, June 25, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Alex Koplin)
6 words to define democracy

What words would you use?

Opinion: The latest gun regulation bill is nothing to cheer about

The legislation resembles the timid movements of a couple of 6-month old children…

The U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, D.C. in this file photo. (File)
Opinion: The Alaskans with the power to defend America’s democracy

It’s well past time to publicly refute Trump’s lie

Opinion: Here’s what I expect of lawmakers in a post-Roe America

I urge lawmakers to codify abortion rights at the state and federal levels.

Opinion: Confusion over ranked choice voting persists

Voter confusion over ballot procedures will continue

Most Read