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

A “Vote Here” sign is seen at the City of Kenai building on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Voices of the Peninsula: Get out there and Vote!

The League of Women Voters on the Kenai and Kenai Peninsula Votes created this voter guide for the mayoral election

Taz Tally. (Photo by Christina Whiting/courtesy)
Point of View: I stand with drag queens

I changed my perspective when I saw my first drag queen show in Montreal in 1964

U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka and former President Donald Trump stand on stage during a July 2022 rally in Anchorage. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: Tshibaka’s insincere defense of democracy

There are a lot of possible explanations why fewer votes were cast last November

Opinion: Humanism and the billionaire class

Compromise is the right thing to do and they should do it.

Opinion: The challenged truths of 3 elected representatives

“Politicians lying is nothing new.”

This photo shows the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The wrong way to define demand

And as glaciers go, the Mendenhall is only a minor attraction.

Zachary Hamilton (Courtesy photo)
Borough mayoral candidate: ‘The best is yet to come’

Zachary Hamilton is running for Kenai Peninsula Borough mayor in the special election

Love, INC in Soldotna, Alaska, provides homelessness prevention and housing services to people on the Kenai Peninsula. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)
Opinion: COVID relief funds help homeless children in Alaska

We need to sustain this kind of investment.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: Alaska must act now to capitalize on carbon markets

Alaska has vast forests and coastlines that can provide natural carbon management

Opinion: MLK Day clinics offered in the ‘spirit of service and advocacy for equality and social justice’

Attorneys across the state will be spending their holiday as “A Day On, Not a Day Off”

The M/V Tustumena comes into Homer after spending the day in Seldovia in 2010. (Homer News File)
Opinion: New federal funding could aid Alaska Marine Highway System

The evidence is clear that the AMHS is in grave danger of failing and moving into Alaska’s history books

(Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: I’ve seen the union difference

As a community we can show solidarity…