Delay of Trump Appointments: Who’s to Blame?

 

We have a classic finger-pointing moment: Trump has had few positions filled in his administration, and theories abound on why appointments are taking so long. Of course, most opinions are driven by partisanship. But I’m going to try to clarify what is actually going on—or not going on.

One reason for the delays is that the Trump administration got off to a very slow start. There are 559 government posts that require Senate confirmation. On “Fox and Friends” Trump said, “I look at some of the jobs, and it’s people over people over people. What do all these people do?” He suggested he might not want to fill all those positions. But to conduct deep cuts, people need to be hired at the higher levels to decide which positions should be eliminated.

Other steps in the vetting process are causing delays, such as White House aides who must give their approval. And some potential nominees are not happy about the five-year post-employment ban on lobbying.

In the last couple of months the administration has finally been providing nominees to the Senate. According to the Wall Street Journal quoting the Partnership for Public Service, “…as of June 28 Mr. Trump had nominated 178 appointees but the Senate had confirmed only 46. Barack Obama had 183 nominees confirmed by that date in his first term, and George W. Bush 130.”

Even though Chuck Schumer blames the White House for the delays, he has admitted that the Senate had received 242 nominations but confirmed only 50 through June 30.

The WSJ, however, identified the Democrats as the culprits:

Democratic obstruction against nominees is nearly total, most notably including a demand for cloture filings for every nominee—no matter how minor the position. This means a two-day waiting period and then another 30 hours of debate. The 30-hour rule means Mr. Trump might not be able to fill all of those 400 positions in four years. The cloture rule also allows the minority to halt other business during the 30-hour debate period, which helps slow the GOP policy and oversight agenda.

There are other obscure rules that make the process slow and tedious, and the Republicans need to eliminate these barriers. Mitch McConnell is reluctant to make these changes happen.

The Washington Post claims that potential nominees are nervous about taking positions in the government:

Republicans say they are turning down job offers to work for a chief executive whose volatile temperament makes them nervous. They are asking head-hunters if their reputations could suffer permanent damage, according to 27 people the Washington Post interviewed to assess what is becoming a debilitating factor in recruiting political appointees.

Several people interviewed also described other reservations:

Potential candidates question whether they could make a lasting contribution in an administration whose policies often change directions. They worry that anyone in the White House, even in a mid-level post, faces the possibility of sizable legal bills serving on a team that is under investigation. And then there are the tweets.

‘You can count me out,’ said an attorney who served in the George W. Bush administration and has turned down senior-level legal posts at several agencies, including the Justice Department. This attorney, like others who talked candidly about job offers from the administration, spoke on the condition of anonymity, either because their employers do business with the government or they fear retribution from Republican leaders.

Fortunately, positions that don’t require Senate approval are being filled. At the same time, these people aren’t influential and have little to no say in decisions that are made at higher levels.

Although these appointments linger in the background of the controversies over health care, tax reform and, of course, Russia, there are people who still keep the wheels of government turning. They could be instrumental in carrying out policies on national security, economic progress, and international issues. They are the ones who are supposed to make things happen behind the scenes. On one hand, government still limps along; on the other, there may be gaps and missteps with not enough qualified people minding the store. And of course, there may be reason to be concerned about people who may not be invested in a successful administration.

As I said in my introduction, everyone seems to have a political axe to grind. In one way or another, filling these positions depends on the administration providing viable employees in a timely manner. The Republicans are also going to have to eliminate rules that cause roadblocks to Senate approvals. And finally, the Trump administration will find credible people if they find their way out of the scandals created by themselves and the MSM, and if they tone down the rhetoric. Let’s hope they get on with it soon.

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  1. Profile photo of Trink Reagan

    Susan Quinn: As I said in my introduction, everyone seems to have a political axe to grind

    Hubby and I just completed a two day car

    trip trying to make sense out of an audio book dealing with physics.

    The four forces controlling the universe we inhabit.

    Strong

    Weak

    Electromagnetic

    Gravity

    I’m adding a fifth:

    Political.

    We are currently mere corks bobbing helplessly on the dark, troubling waves being created by some of our fellow homo sapiens. It’s very, very big.

    • #1
    • July 16, 2017 at 1:39 pm
    • Like4 likes
  2. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Trink (View Comment):
    Hubby and I just completed a two day care trip trying to make sense out of an audio book dealing with physics.

    We are indeed bobbing corks, Trink, but at least we’re bobbing together! So the next time I have a question about physics, I’ll contact you guys, right? 😉

    • #2
    • July 16, 2017 at 1:45 pm
    • Like2 likes
  3. Profile photo of doulalady Member

    Thank you for doing the leg work on this issue. I’ve wanted to know but kept hearing contradictory takes, especially on the Ricochet podcast.

    If McConnell et al don’t buck up they will be out. Other bigger stars have fallen when the electorate tired of their laziness and their unwillingness to use their demonstrable parliamentary skills to win for their own side. All for the sake of a place in the DC cocktail party circuit.

    Coming from England I know exactly what snobbery looks like and this is snobbery pure and simple. As unamerican as it gets.

    Let the guy lead, and trust the electorate to kick him out if he does a bad job. Enough of this death-by-a-thousand-cuts, passive-aggressive, highschool girl, tactics.

    • #3
    • July 16, 2017 at 1:52 pm
    • Like9 likes
  4. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    doulalady (View Comment):
    Let the guy lead, and trust the electorate to kick him out if he does a bad job. Enough of this death-by-a-thousand-cuts, passive-aggressive, highschool girl, tactics.

    I’m getting pretty sick of it, too. We have work to do, and wringing hands and making excuses doesn’t cut it, doulalady! Let’s get this show on the road! Thanks for chiming in.

    • #4
    • July 16, 2017 at 1:56 pm
    • Like1 like
  5. Profile photo of cdor Member

    Thanks Susan for a very informative post. I was wondering how Trump was doing in this regard. It figures that WAPO manages to cast all aspersions towards Trump with not one mention of the Dems obstruction. I want Trump to succeed because I agree with nearly all of his positions, except perhaps healthcare,which is not well defined by either Trump or the Republican congress. Mitch McConnell is very reluctant to change rules. Yet he did when it came to the Supreme Court. Trump should spend some twitter time on this issue. He is being way too patient.

    • #5
    • July 16, 2017 at 2:14 pm
    • Like4 likes
  6. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    cdor (View Comment):
    Thanks Susan for a very informative post. I was wondering how Trump was doing in this regard. It figures that WAPO manages to cast all aspersions towards Trump with not one mention of the Dems obstruction. I want Trump to succeed because I agree with nearly all of his positions, except perhaps healthcare,which is not well defined by either Trump or the Republican congress. Mitch McConnell is very reluctant to change rules. Yet he did when it came to the Supreme Court. Trump should spend some twitter time on this issue. He is being way too patient.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around. On reflection, cdor, I think that rather than tweet McConnell (who will probably only get his dander up), maybe Pence could meet with McConnell. He knows how tough it is on Mitch, and maybe he could show him the big picture in a way he hasn’t considered. Times have changed; we have to be more aggressive.

    • #6
    • July 16, 2017 at 2:18 pm
    • Like2 likes
  7. Profile photo of Kevin Schulte Member

    Can Mitch McConnell defend the constipation of the Senate by the minority party ? Can he defend the practices of the Senate as in the best interest of the United States people ?

    If he can’t, then he is the problem. He has the power to change rules.

    As for the other speed bumps you listed Susan , I don’t know.

    • #7
    • July 16, 2017 at 2:32 pm
    • Like4 likes
  8. Profile photo of cdor Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    cdor (View Comment):
    Thanks Susan for a very informative post. I was wondering how Trump was doing in this regard. It figures that WAPO manages to cast all aspersions towards Trump with not one mention of the Dems obstruction. I want Trump to succeed because I agree with nearly all of his positions, except perhaps healthcare,which is not well defined by either Trump or the Republican congress. Mitch McConnell is very reluctant to change rules. Yet he did when it came to the Supreme Court. Trump should spend some twitter time on this issue. He is being way too patient.

    There’s plenty of blame to go around. On reflection, cdor, I think that rather than tweet McConnell (who will probably only get his dander up), maybe Pence could meet with McConnell. He knows how tough it is on Mitch, and maybe he could show him the big picture in a way he hasn’t considered. Times have changed; we have to be more aggressive.

    I meant that Trump should let the people know about this problem via tweeting. The media doesn’t bother because they don’t care or they approve.

    • #8
    • July 16, 2017 at 2:54 pm
    • Like4 likes
  9. Profile photo of Hoyacon Member

    I’d say that assigning blame here is something of a thankless task, but, on the theory that there’s always enough to go around, it seems that the Administration must bear some of the responsibility for slow-walking its choices. Yes, there will be the nervous nellies who can’t be coaxed into service because, ummm, Trump (!), but there are many qualified people out there for whom an influential position would be a plum. It’s the Administrations job, with the resources and power of the presidency, to find them.

    Here’s an appointments tracker that I’ve found useful and that points a somewhat grim picture. I realize WaPo’s involvement will raise red flags for some, but the organization that produces the tracker does good work.

    Another note–The number of “key” positions that require Senate confirmation is something of a qualifier, since the term is a bit subjective. The total number is actually at least a thousand, although I’ve had trouble pinning it down. There are “department heads” and others of some influence in running government programs who are not included in the “key” number but also must be confirmed.

    • #9
    • July 16, 2017 at 3:00 pm
    • Like4 likes
  10. Profile photo of Randy Webster Member

    Trink (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn: As I said in my introduction, everyone seems to have a political axe to grind

    Hubby and I just completed a two day car

    trip trying to make sense out of an audio book dealing with physics.

    The four forces controlling the universe we inhabit.

    Strong

    Weak

    Electromagnetic

    Gravity

    I’m adding a fifth:

    Political.

    We are currently mere corks bobbing helplessly on the dark, troubling waves being created by some of our fellow homo sapiens. It’s very, very big.

    If you’re interested, let me recommend Modern Physics for Non-Scientists, one of the Great Courses. The lecturer is Wolfson.

    • #10
    • July 16, 2017 at 3:05 pm
    • Like2 likes
  11. Profile photo of Richard Finlay Member

    How about filling the positions that do not require Senate approval, then appointing some of them ‘acting-big-shot’ to get things moving? Fire the holdovers in big-shot positions, just to get your own in. You might have to ‘settle’ for new blood as the old hands will be worried about their connections to the next administration more than accomplishing a Trump agenda.

    Whenever he worries about going around obstructive Senate rules, McConnell should ask himself WWDD.

    What would Democrats do?

    • #11
    • July 16, 2017 at 3:41 pm
    • Like3 likes
  12. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    Another note–The number of “key” positions that require Senate confirmation is something of a qualifier, since the term is a bit subjective. The total number is actually at least a thousand, although I’ve had trouble pinning it down. There are “department heads” and others of some influence in running government programs who are not included in the “key” number.

    I noticed the numbers fluctuated, too, Hoyacon. I’m concerned that not having decision-makers in place will slow down an already slow acting government.

    • #12
    • July 16, 2017 at 3:52 pm
    • Like1 like
  13. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):
    How about filling the positions that do not require Senate approval, then appointing some of them ‘acting-big-shot’ to get things moving? Fire the holdovers in big-shot positions, just to get your own in. You might have to ‘settle’ for new blood as the old hands will be worried about their connections to the next administration more than accomplishing a Trump agenda.

    Whenever he worries about going around obstructive Senate rules, McConnell should ask himself WWDD.

    What would Democrats do?

    With all the venom directed at Trump, Richard, and all the leaks that have already happened, changes will definitely need to be made. I imagine that some people are already in acting positions, but I’d be all for bringing in more who don’t need Congressional approval. We can have at least some idea that they will operate in support of this administration. With McConnell, I suspect he knows just what he’s doing; he doesn’t want to be like those nasty Democrats. That’s going to be a mistake.

    • #13
    • July 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm
    • Like3 likes
  14. Profile photo of Richard Finlay Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I’d be all for bringing in more who don’t need Congressional approval

    There have got to be some bright lights at the State level for whom this would be their big chance at the big time.

    • #14
    • July 16, 2017 at 3:57 pm
    • Like2 likes
  15. Profile photo of Hoyacon Member

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):
    How about filling the positions that do not require Senate approval, then appointing some of them ‘acting-big-shot’ to get things moving?

    It could be done–all we need are lots of Big Shots. There’s some here (about 1400), and a bunch more here (say, 700). The ones people crawl over each other for are in the Executive Office (350 or so). All are political appointments without confirmation.

    • #15
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:00 pm
    • Like1 like
  16. Profile photo of Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    doulalady (View Comment):
    Coming from England I know exactly what snobbery looks like and this is snobbery pure and simple. As unamerican as it gets.

    Let the guy lead, and trust the electorate to kick him out if he does a bad job. Enough of this death-by-a-thousand-cuts, passive-aggressive, highschool girl, tactics.

    You really hit the nail on the head.

    • #16
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:09 pm
    • Like3 likes
  17. Profile photo of Jamie Lockett Reagan

    The most troubling aspect is the reporting that qualified individuals don’t want to serve in this administration.

    • #17
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:09 pm
    • Like2 likes
  18. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Richard Finlay (View Comment):
    How about filling the positions that do not require Senate approval, then appointing some of them ‘acting-big-shot’ to get things moving?

    It could be done–all we need are lots of Big Shots. There’s some here (about 1400), and a bunch more here (say, 700). The ones people crawl over each other for are in the Executive Office (350 or so). All political appointments without confirmation.

    Terrific suggestions! These people will be hungry for the opportunity, and those opportunities will grow as they show their abilities and enthusiasm. I’d love to see lots of effort going into filling these jobs; who knows–some of them may be perfect for a confirmation appointment, at the rate we’re going!

    • #18
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:11 pm
    • Like1 like
  19. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    The most troubling aspect is the reporting that qualified individuals don’t want to serve in this administration.

    I agree, Jamie. But what happened to the selfless interest in serving one’s country? Most of them won’t even report directly to Trump. I’d like to see a combination of people sucking it up and taking the jobs and seeing what happens, and at the same time, have Trump tone it down. I don’t think the opportunities will be as dire as the MSM projects it will be, and I think that anyone who interacts with Trump will probably like him; most people, one-on-one, do.

    • #19
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:15 pm
    • LikeLike
  20. Profile photo of Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    With McConnell, I suspect he knows just what he’s doing; he doesn’t want to be like those nasty Democrats. That’s going to be a mistake.

    The Dems are street fighters while McConnell still thinks he’s in a gentleman’s club. The Honorable Gentleman from Kentucky needs to retire or get with it; the GOP needs a tough guy to lead the Senate who isn’t afraid to throw out some of those old rules intended to obstruct majority rule.

    • #20
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:18 pm
    • Like4 likes
  21. Profile photo of Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):
    The Dems are street fighters while McConnell still thinks he’s in a gentleman’s club. The Honorable Gentleman from Kentucky needs to retire or get with it; the GOP needs a tough guy to lead the Senate who isn’t afraid to throw out some of those old rules intended to obstruct majority rule.

    It’s taken me a while to get there, GWW, but I agree. Fight fire with fire. Time to mix it up and make the tough decisions, Mitch.

    • #21
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:20 pm
    • Like2 likes
  22. Profile photo of Hoyacon Member

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    The most troubling aspect is the reporting that qualified individuals don’t want to serve in this administration.

    True, but in the interest of flippancy, I’d question whether that makes them qualified.

    I give minor credence to the idea that they’re worried about “policy interference,” and major credence to the idea that they’re worried about their private businesses losing clients or their invitations to cocktail parties taking a nose dive.

    • #22
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:21 pm
    • Like6 likes
  23. Profile photo of cdor Member

    Hoyacon (View Comment):
    I’d say that assigning blame here is something of a thankless task, but, on the theory that there’s always enough to go around, it seems that the Administration must bear some of the responsibility for slow-walking its choices. Yes, there will be the nervous nellies who can’t be coaxed into service because, ummm, Trump (!), but there are many qualified people out there for whom an influential position would be a plum. It’s the Administrations job, with the resources and power of the presidency, to find them.

    Here’s an appointments tracker that I’ve found useful and that points a somewhat grim picture. I realize WaPo’s involvement will raise red flags for some, but the organization that produces the tracker does good work.

    Another note–The number of “key” positions that require Senate confirmation is something of a qualifier, since the term is a bit subjective. The total number is actually at least a thousand, although I’ve had trouble pinning it down. There are “department heads” and others of some influence in running government programs who are not included in the “key” number.

    Good work @hoyacon thanks. I am bookmarking this site. Aside from the issue of Trump in a somewhat conservative fashion doesn’t see the need for so many employees, it definitely appears that a lot of this is on him. His appointees take an average of 45 days to confirm. Obama’s took 37. But Obama had sent 150 selections more than Trump, and had 150 more appointees at this point. Some of these jobs are important and need to be filled by his people. How else can he control some of these leeks?

    • #23
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:26 pm
    • Like2 likes
  24. Profile photo of Randy Webster Member

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    The most troubling aspect is the reporting that qualified individuals don’t want to serve in this administration.

    I’d take anything from the MSM with a grain of salt. Though I suppose it’s possible.

    • #24
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm
    • Like3 likes
  25. Profile photo of blood thirsty neocon Member

    At least on judicial appointees, Trump is doing his part.

    I just counted Trump’s judicial nominees:

    • 1 SCOTUS (confirmed)
    • 18 district court (1 comfirmed)
    •  9 court of appeals nominees (1 confirmed)

    At this time in his presidency, President Obama had nominated

    • 1 SCOTUS (later confirmed)
    • 4 district court (0 confirmed)
    • 5 court of appeals (0 confirmed)
    • #25
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:29 pm
    • Like4 likes
  26. Profile photo of Hoyacon Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):
    The Dems are street fighters while McConnell still thinks he’s in a gentleman’s club. The Honorable Gentleman from Kentucky needs to retire or get with it; the GOP needs a tough guy to lead the Senate who isn’t afraid to throw out some of those old rules intended to obstruct majority rule.

    It’s taken me a while to get there, GWW, but I agree. Fight fire with fire. Time to mix it up and make the tough decisions, Mitch.

    Speaking of presidential appointments and “mixing it up,” [EDIT: decided against naming names for appointments in main feed without permission] There are people out there.

    • #26
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:30 pm
    • Like2 likes
  27. Profile photo of Kevin Schulte Member

    Goldwaterwoman (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    With McConnell, I suspect he knows just what he’s doing; he doesn’t want to be like those nasty Democrats. That’s going to be a mistake.

    The Dems are street fighters while McConnell still thinks he’s in a gentleman’s club. The Honorable Gentleman from Kentucky needs to retire or get with it; the GOP needs a tough guy to lead the Senate who isn’t afraid to throw out some of those old rules intended to obstruct majority rule.

    IMHO you ladies are being far to charitable. I see Mitch as Dick Dastardly

    • #27
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:31 pm
    • Like2 likes
  28. Profile photo of cdor Member

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    The most troubling aspect is the reporting that qualified individuals don’t want to serve in this administration.

    Who is doing this reporting? I must have missed that. Oh yea, it’s the honest WAPO that determined that “fact”. Maybe and maybe not. But I am not surprised that it is more difficult for Republicans than Democrats to find great people who want to work for the government.

    • #28
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:32 pm
    • Like2 likes
  29. Profile photo of Goldwaterwoman Thatcher

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    It’s taken me a while to get there, GWW, but I agree. Fight fire with fire. Time to mix it up and make the tough decisions, Mitch.

    Susan, you really have come full circle. Remember what a tough fighter old Harry Reid was? He wasn’t one bit afraid to change rules to get what he wanted. Politics is not a sport for the weak of heart. If one looks back at the history of Congress, it never was a gentleman’s club but was full of feisty guys who challenged each other to duels and did all kinds of skullduggery to pass legislation.

    • #29
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:35 pm
    • Like3 likes
  30. Profile photo of blood thirsty neocon Member

    cdor (View Comment):

    Jamie Lockett (View Comment):
    The most troubling aspect is the reporting that qualified individuals don’t want to serve in this administration.

    Who is doing this reporting? I must have missed that. Oh yea, it’s the honest WAPO that determined that “fact”. Maybe and maybe not. But I am not surprised that it is more difficult for Republicans than Democrats to find great people who want to work for the government.

    Would you wanna go through the insane confirmation process, just to get a large pay cut and be constantly harassed by the media?

    • #30
    • July 16, 2017 at 4:36 pm
    • Like6 likes
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