Even Republican senators are worried about the high number of vacancies in Trump's administration
For the Trump Administration, 2018 was a year of firings and resignations. Everyone from former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to former White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly was fired—and the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in December was one of the biggest bombshells of all. Presently, a number of key positions don’t have permanent appointees, including White House chief of staff, defense secretary and attorney general. And all this volatility in the Trump Administration, according to a new Washington Post article, is worrying the U.S. Senate—including members of President Donald Trump’s own party.
The Post article quotes Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma as asserting that “way too many” positions are vacant and noting that it is easier to “implement policy when you have a confirmed person” in a position. And the Post observes that according to an estimate from the Partnership for Public Service, “only 54% of Trump’s civilian executive branch nominations have been confirmed, compared to 77% under President Barack Obama.”
The Partnership for Public Service has been tracking nominations for as much as 30 years, and the group’s director, Max Stier, told the Post that the Trump Administration is “slower to fill jobs and has higher turnover than any administration we have records for.”
The Post article (written by Juliet Eilperin, Josh Dawsey and Seung Min Kim) goes on to observe that “the White House has not bothered to nominate people for 150 out of 705 key Senate-confirmed positions.” And according to the Post, only 41% of Justice Department and Department of the Interior positions that need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate are presently filled.
Another GOP senator quoted in the article, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, expressed concerns over the lack of a permanent secretary for the Department of the Interior. And the fact that the defense secretary position hasn’t been permanently filled is especially troubling, the Post reports. Gen. Jim Mattis was often said to be a stabilizing force in the volatile Trump Administration, but he resigned in frustration after Trump announced that he planned to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Patrick Shanahan has been serving as acting defense secretary since early January, and Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa has recommended U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson as a permanent replacement.
The Post quotes Ernst, a Republican who is up for reelection in 2020, as saying that although she “has great confidence in Patrick Shanahan…..we absolutely need to have a permanent nominee.”
The Post’s article has sparked an entire discussion on Reddit. One user opined that “the vacancies allow Trump to more easily do whatever he wants” because he has fewer “supposedly intelligent people to tell him no.” And another user cited the article as proof that the Trump Administration is a ship that is “not just sinking, it’s burning too.”