Democrats frustrated by vacancies across the government

Ten months later President BidenJoe BidenRisch, dismayed by Republican senators’ blocking of Biden’s diplomatic elections, on Sunday shows a trailer: Boosters open to all American adults; House Democrats pass spending plan to Senate White House calls for investigation into sexual assault allegations of missing Chinese tennis star MORE took office, many key positions throughout the government lack a permanent occupant.

The White House has spent months fighting Republican locks on Biden’s nominees for various positions. Several of them are critical ambassadorial candidates who have been retained by Republican senators.

Biden has also been slow to select candidates for some key positions, while others have failed to garner enough support in the 50-50 Senate, where Democrats only have a majority thanks to Vice President Harris.

The result is an administration that has seen a slower confirmation rate than its three predecessors, leaving White House officials and Senate Democrats increasingly frustrated. While many positions are filled by acting officials, experts say ongoing leadership throughout the government is important to maintain morale and enable long-term planning.

“The bottom line of all of this is that, at a time when we need so much from our government, we have a government that is not run with permanent officials in many cases, and that is a big problem,” said Max Stier, President and CEO. of the Association for Public Service.

Kathryn Tenpas, an executive confirmation expert at the Brookings Institution, said Biden is lagging behind former Presidents Trump, Obama and George W. Bush in the number of confirmed nominees in the first 300 days of his presidency “by an extremely significant level points. “

Of the top 15 departments, 140 of Biden’s nominees have been confirmed, according to his research, while Trump had 158, Obama had 274 and Bush had 326 at the same time. There are 1,200 Senate-confirmed seats across the executive branch, which includes bodies like the Environmental Protection Agency that Tenpas does not track.

Confirmations are slow across the departments of State, Commerce, Homeland Security, Defense, Transportation and Treasury when comparing the Biden administration to its predecessors, he said. While the Senate has been slow to process nominations for executive departments, it has moved faster to confirm judicial nominees than it did with Trump.

“By far the worst performer is in the State Department,” Tenpas said.

Republican Senators, including Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzRisch dismayed by Republican senators’ blocking of Biden’s diplomatic selections Sunday preview: Boosters open to all American adults; House Democrats Pass Spending Plan On Senate Campaign Opposing US Consulate In Jerusalem Powered By Fake Account Network – Reports MORE (Texas), has slowed dozens of State Department nominees, including those for ambassadors and other high-level positions, infuriating the White House.

Secretary of state Antony blinkAntony BlinkenBiden Can’t Let Iran Nuclear Deal Pursuit Lead To ‘Munich Moment’ Blinken Warns Of Rising Extremism In Africa, Calls For Reform The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented By ExxonMobil – House Will Vote On Bill of Biden’s social spending after McCarthy’s delay MORE He traveled to Africa last week at a time when no ambassadors to African countries had been confirmed. Cruz’s decision to stop nominations is part of an effort to pressure the administration to impose mandatory sanctions on a Russian gas pipeline.

“I think most people recognize that we should have ambassadors in positions around the world,” said the White House press secretary. Jen psakiJen Psaki White House Calls For Investigation Into Sexual Assault Of Missing Chinese Tennis Star, Claims Democrats Forging On As Ukrainian Defense Minister Manchin Yo-yos Says He Asked The Pentagon For Military Assistance MORE he said on Friday. “It’s frustrating, it’s unprecedented, and it certainly hurts our national security.”

Rather than being able to quickly confirm these nominees by unanimous consent, the Senate must spend valuable speaking time. Schumer has submitted confidential information on 119 nominations under the Biden administration, nearly twice the number of times confidential information on Trump’s nominees was submitted during the same period, according to statistics provided by Schumer’s office.

Schumer has criticized Republicans for “unprecedented obstruction” of Biden’s nominees and warned in a recent Nov. 14 letter to Dear Colleagues that he could keep the chamber in session longer to boost the nominees.

“President Biden deserves his entire team to execute our goals at home and abroad,” Schumer wrote. “We will do whatever it takes to get them confirmed, even if it means voting at the wrong time.”

Stier argued that the process should be reformed so that there are fewer positions subject to confirmation and uncontroversial nominees can move more quickly.

“There is no question that the time to confirm has doubled since the Reagan administration, that the pace has slowed steadily among modern presidents, but at the end of the day it has always been slow,” Stier said.

Compounding the challenge, under the Federal Vacancy Reform Act, officials who have been serving on duty in positions for which there is no nominee could only hold those positions until last Tuesday.

The law, passed in 1998 during the Clinton years, was designed to incentivize administrations to nominate officials for vacant positions within 210 days during the course of an administration or 300 days in a new administration.

While Biden has nominated officials to hundreds of positions, there are more than 160 positions in which he has not named a nominee, according to a tracker for The Washington Post and the Association for Public Service.

The impact on government operations of the Vacancy Act deadline is not entirely clear. In some cases, Stier said, administrations have played “verbal gymnastics” to rename people’s positions, but essentially allow them to keep doing the job.

“Each agency has gone position by position to ensure that where we do not have Senate-confirmed leadership, we have appointed appointed senior leaders who are ready to serve until we nominate and confirm senior officials,” said the deputy press secretary of the White House, Chris. Meagher said last week.

The Vacancy Reform Act does not apply to the Office of Management and Budget, where Shalanda Young has served as interim director since March without Biden appointing a new nominee. Young is on maternity leave after giving birth to her daughter and Jason Miller, deputy managing director, has temporarily taken over.

“We’re sure where we are and we’re doing a lot of things,” Miller told reporters on a recent call when asked for an update on a WBO nomination.

Biden waited until almost the last minute to name a nominee to lead the Food and Drug Administration. His pick, Robert Califf, is expected to face a difficult process given the senator’s opposition. Joe manchinJoe Manchin Democrats Advance As Manchin’s Yoyos Five Takeaways: House Passes Biden’s Radical Benefits Bill Energy and Environment Overnight – House Passes Giant Climate and Social Policy Bill MORE (DW.Va.) and potentially other Democrats.

The Senate faces a busy legislative race through the end of the year, dominated by debate over Biden’s broad social and climate policy package after its approval by the House.

Tenpas predicted there would be sustained pressure on the Senate to work on nominations for next year, given the possibility that the administration will start to see changes next year.

“Being behind now, it only gets worse,” he said. “You’re going to have to start next summer by filling in the spaces that the people who were confirmed early are now leaving.”

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