During the early days of Donald Trump's presidency, he seemed to complain frequently about how the Senate is slowing the pace of his cabinet appointments. Now, Trump's cabinet is filled. The next question is - now what? As it turns out, there's not a lot.
Trump's administration is significantly falling behind when it comes to filling crucial roles within the federal government. As a result, there are plenty of federal offices and agencies that are essentially in a state of "suspended animation." Many civil servants are answering to temporary bosses. This is a huge backlog in the system as these bosses have unclear staying power and influence. For now, most of the civil servants are still waiting for official appointees, which may still be weeks or even months away.
As of the moment, this is what we know:
Trump's 18-member cabinet is now fully filled. However, Trump still hasn't appointed anyone to fill up more than 500 other positions. Compared to the past administrations, Trump is severely falling behind. This is especially true to positions that are third and second tier. These positions play a vital role as they carry out the critical daily functions of the government.
President Barrack Obama was also criticized for the same kind of delays during the early phase of his administration. According to the figures provided by the Center for Presidential Transitions, around the same time that President Obama nominated 70 positions, Trump has nominated 36.
In many areas, Trump's administration has not even started the screening process, which is very time-consuming. In fact, the screening process alone can last for several weeks and may take more than two months. According to the data acquired from the Office of Government Ethics, an independent bureau that performs financial reviews of presidential nominees, they have only received 63 disclosure reports for potential nominees for the Trump administration.
When it comes to the State Department, deputy-level jobs still remain unfilled. Furthermore, six undersecretaries along with 22 assistant secretaries are also vacant. The Department of Homeland Security also suffers the same vacancy issues. In fact, Trump only nominated one out of the three deputy positions. Aside from that, Trump still hasn't named four undersecretaries and three assistant secretaries. The top boss of the Citizenship and Immigration is also unfilled, along with the administrator of Customs and Border Protection.
According to Nicholas Burns, a 30-year veteran when it comes to presidential transitions, Trump's administration is one of the slowest in decades. Burns served both Democrat and Republican administrations. According to him, no matter the affiliation, a slow transition is always a big mistake. After all, the world continues to move forward, and it does not wait for any administration.
This entire situation is like a beautiful restaurant. While most people remember the food, the outside appearance, and interior design, not many people remember the unglamorous, day-to-day aspects of the place. While Trump may want to hog the limelight, it could be possible that he just doesn't want to deal with the nitty and gritty. Unfortunately, even the unglamorous parts are critical for the success of the entire system. Trump should recognize and address the issue as soon as possible.