President Joe Biden has yet to name the long-term leaders of several important agencies, including the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, which is delaying his attempts to regulate large technology companies.
Axios notes that the last several presidents have only waited until March to submit their nominees to lead agencies like the FTC, the FCC, and the Justice Department's Antitrust Division. However, Biden’s White House shows no indication of nominating anyone to permanently lead those agencies as of June 1 despite both Acting FTC Chairwoman Rebecca Slaughter and Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel pushing to be given the permanent positions.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a part of the Commerce Department that controls policy on government-owned airwaves, also lacks a permanent leader as technology companies compete to roll out 5G networks.
The Antitrust Division could face a difficult time reviewing the recently-announced acquisition of MGM Studios by Amazon and AT&T’s decision to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery without a permanent head to allocate resources or make an attempt to challenge the deals if they’re found to violate antitrust regulations.
"The absence of permanent appointees delays work on anything controversial, as the actings, properly, don't want to commit major resources to big projects that the permanent person wouldn't want," Andrew Schwartzman, a senior counselor at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, told Axios.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that while Biden has nominated agency heads and other leadership posts at a faster rate than usual, he has been slower to get his nominees approved by Congress. Biden has nominated 244 people to posts that require Senate confirmation, which according to the Center for Presidential Transition is more than double the number that former President Donald Trump nominated during the same time period in his term. However, only 53 of these nominees have been approved by the Senate, more than Trump’s 42 by this point, but by this point in their first terms, former presidents Barack Obama had 145 confirmed, George W. Bush had 126, and Bill Clinton had 151.
Biden is reportedly about to name a large number of nominees to diplomatic positions, including the ambassadors to Israel, China, India, and Mexico, possibly as soon as this week, according to the Journal.
"You can’t think about the Senate and not factor in time, effort, [and] political capital for nominations," Reema Dodin, deputy director of the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, told the newspaper.
Max Stier, the president and CEO of the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, added that the Senate has to confirm too many positions, saying: "The Senate is a small pipe down which we are trying to force too much material. Predictably it is now clogged."
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