In the early days of his presidency, Donald Trump liked to complain publicly about the deliberative pace of his Cabinet nominees’ confirmation proceedings in the Senate. But with his Cabinet now in place—now what? The answer: not a lot. The Trump administration is in the process of falling staggeringly behind in filling vital roles across the federal government. The result: “Many federal agencies and offices are in states of suspended animation, their career civil servants answering to temporary bosses whose influence and staying power are unclear, and who are sometimes awaiting policy direction from appointees whose arrival may be weeks or months away,” the New York Times reports.
Here’s more on the extent of shortage from the Times:
While Mr. Trump has won confirmation of 18 members of his cabinet, he has not nominated anyone for more than 500 other vital posts and has fallen behind his predecessors in filling the important second- and third-tier positions that carry out most of the government’s crucial daily functions. As of Sunday, he had sent to the Senate 36 nominations for critical positions, just over half of the 70 that President Barack Obama, who was also criticized for early delays, had sent at the same point in 2009, according to figures compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Presidential Transition at the Partnership for Public Service.
In the vast majority of cases, Mr. Trump’s administration has not even begun the lengthy screening process—which can take several weeks to as long as two months—that nominees must complete before their confirmations can be considered by the Senate. According to data obtained by The New York Times, the Office of Government Ethics, the independent agency that conducts financial reviews of every presidential nominee, had received only 63 disclosure reports for prospective Trump administration nominees as of March 5, less than a third of the 228 that Mr. Obama’s team had submitted by that date in 2009.
At the State Department, both deputy-level jobs remain unfilled, along with the posts of six under secretaries and 22 assistant secretaries. At the Treasury Department, Mr. Trump has yet to name a deputy secretary, general counsel or chief financial officer, or any of the three under secretaries and nine assistant secretaries. At the Department of Homeland Security, one of three agencies for which the president has nominated a deputy, he has yet to name any of the four under secretaries, three assistant secretaries or other crucial players like a chief of Citizenship and Immigration Services or a commissioner of Customs and Border Protection.
“There’s no question this is the slowest transition in decades,” R. Nicholas Burns, a 30-year veteran of presidential transitions and former State Department official in both Republican and Democrat administrations told the Times. “It is a very, very big mistake. The world continues—it doesn’t respect transitions.”