The most “obvious” problem area in Trump’s executive branch is the State Department, according to Stier. Trump had only seen eight people confirmed to his State Department as of June 23, compared with at least 23 confirmations for each of the four presidents who preceded him by the same time, according to The Washington Post, which is tracking nominations with The Partnership for Public Service.
As of June 23, Trump had nominated only 12 people for State who were waiting for confirmation, also a lower figure than his predecessors.
Stier notes that the vacancies come as the Trump administration attempts to deal with an escalating crisis over North Korea. The U.S. and its allies are trying to curb the isolated and defiant nation’s missile and nuclear programs. The Trump administration has already put less emphasis on the State Department than past administrations, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson reportedly “unloaded on” a White House aide recently over his frustrations with the staffing process.
“There may be legitimate reasons why you want to reorganize [the State Department], but keeping [positions] vacant this long isn’t the way to do this right,” Stier said.
The Post notes that, in terms of the number of people confirmed, the State Department is in better shape than most parts of the executive branch. The newspaper reported this week that in more than half of the 15 “primary executive departments,” only the secretary leading it has been confirmed.
That includes Agriculture, Commerce, Energy and Education, among others.
Once Trump does nominate people, the Senate confirming those officials has taken an average of 43 days, longer than in the administrations of any of the four presidents preceding him.
Trump has repeatedly pinned his confirmation problems on Senate Democrats, whom he calls “obstructionists.” While the minority Democrats have taken steps to delay Trump nominees as much as they can, their ability to do so is limited.
The pace may not increase from here. Senate Republicans are focusing on mustering the support to pass an Obamacare replacement bill before their August recess.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has called on Congress to raise the debt ceiling before August, as well. Lawmakers also will need to pass an appropriations bill, while the GOP wants to approve a tax reform plan by the end of the year.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.