One year into Trump’s presidency, hundreds of key executive branch positions remain unfilled

One year into the Trump presidency, hundreds of important executive branch and other government positions remain unfilled. The administration nominated 559 officials in its first year – fewer than President Obama, who nominated 658 officials by the same point, and George W. Bush, who nominated 741. President Trump’s nominees are waiting longer for Senate confirmation, reports CBS News correspondent Margaret Brennan.

Those Senate delays have particularly impacted the State Department, but the White House is also to blame as it still has not selected candidates for top slots like a representative to the European Union or U.S. ambassadors to South Korea, Turkey, and Qatar.

Implementing the president’s decisions is the responsibility of the government officials who work for him. Of the roughly 600 key executive branch positions, just 241 have been filled, 135 nominated candidates await confirmation while 244 slots have no nominee at all. 

“This president is slower than any prior president has been in getting their top people into government,” said Max Stier of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service. “The president and bluntly the American people are missing their top leaders in critical agencies across the government.”

There is currently no IRS commissioner, National Counterterrorism Center Director or Census Bureau head.

“I think it’s part the Democrats agenda to try to obstruct the legislative agenda,” said White House legislative director Marc Short.

There is no U.S. ambassador to South Korea at a time when there is a crisis on the Korean Peninsula and no nomination has been made.

“I think there’s a couple of places where the administration needs to get nominees forward to the Senate, Margaret, I accept that. But by and large, the challenge has been Democrats in the United States Senate obstructing our nominees,” Short said.

At the Labor Department, the deputy secretary position, or the No. 2 spot, sits empty. Just like at the Departments of Commerce and Education, and while the administration says it does want these critical leadership positions filled, they claim that some of those spots that sit vacant across the government are simply unnecessary.

Secretary Tillerson has cut about 30 top envoy positions as part of his restructuring effort, but even he has been frustrated that the White House blocked some of his top staff choices. That, coupled with Democratic opposition, has slowed down the administration with nearly 40 percent of Trump nominees still awaiting Senate confirmation.

Author: CBS NEWS
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