President Donald Trump has remarked on numerous occasions that "obstructionist" Democrats are holding up his nominees and keeping key government positions unfilled.
Among them: deputy secretary at Treasury and Commerce, director of the Census, director of ATF, director of the Office on Violence Against Women at Justice and commissioner of the Social Security Administration.
The list continues:
- No nominee for the undersecretary of heal or benefits at Veterans Affairs
- Department of Transportation: no nominees for administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, or National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- No nominees for director of the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, or the U.S. Geological Survey
- 12 assistant secretary positions within the State Department, among many others, remain vacant
- No nominees for ambassadors to countries including South Korea, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey
While it is true that many of these positions currently have "acting" directors, the Post notes that people in this capacity are not bestowed with all the powers of the job and are not permitted to stay in the position indefinitely.
The lack of permanence creates uncertainty and makes strategic planning difficult. It also makes it harder to manage career staff, who are less likely to follow orders they disagree with when they realize that their boss is a short-timer.
Of all the understaffed agencies, the State Department currently has the most vacancies, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson indicating previously that he will conduct a review of the department prior to filling empty positions.
Trump himself has said that many roles will remain unfilled as he seeks to trim down the federal government, saying many positions are unnecessary and telling Fox News' Laura Ingraham in November:
“We don’t need all the people they want,” Trump replied. “I’m a businessman, and I tell my people, ‘When you don’t need to fill slots, don’t fill them.’ But we have some people that I’m not happy with there. Let me tell you, the one that matters is me. I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be.”