Some progress is being made filling some federal leadership positons but there are still hundreds of jobs that remain unfilled throughout the government — and as it turns out may never be. President Trump has said he doesn’t plan to fill many of the hundreds of appointed political jobs in his administration because he thinks they’re unnecessary.
In an interview with Fox News, Trump said he’s been criticized for not filling about 1,200 administration jobs that require Senate confirmation, but people don’t understand that he’s not trying to fill many of those jobs.
“A lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint someone because they’re unnecessary to have,” Trump said. “In government, we have too many people.”
Maybe so but even some of the President’s friends and Republican colleagues apparently don’t think so and have expressed concern about the slow pace of key appointments.
“We’re not even staffed up to where we need to be or where we were, to do a lot of our regular activities,” Linda McMahon, the SBA administrator and the member of the Trump Cabinet with the longest, most personal relationship with the president.
The chair of the Senate Energy Committee also expressed concern about the pace of nominations coming from the Trump administration. Between the FERC and DOE (and Interior) nominees and the secretaries of Interior and Energy — Ryan Zinke and Rick Perry, respectively — the committee has cleared only six administration officials this session. “I don’t think that’s an acceptable pace,” Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said. “Just saying.”
Of course the Democrats aren’t happy with the federal vacancies either. For example, Democratic members on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the President warning him that he is putting American diplomats at risk by not nominating an assistant secretary of State for diplomatic security.
But in a perverse kind of way, the Democrats shouldn’t really be concerned (and actually hope) that the President wants to leave a lot of jobs unfilled because his agenda, whatever it turns out to be, would be undermined. Just because you leave a job unfilled doesn’t mean it doesn’t get done and often it means it gets done by someone who isn’t particularly loyal to you.
So if the President really wants to put the Trump brand on the federal government in the next four years, he’ll have to move on from his legendary “you’re fired” aphorism to a more constructive “you’re hired.”