Top congressional Republicans have expressed concern about the large number of vacancies that remain in President Donald Trump’s administration, particularly the many acting heads of departments, The Washington Post reports.
“It’s a lot, it’s way too many,” said Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., referring to the many acting heads of Cabinet departments. “You want to have confirmed individuals there because they have a lot more authority to be able to make decisions and implement policy when you have a confirmed person in that spot.”
The Partnership for Public Service notes that the Trump administration is well behind previous administrations in filling high-level positions in general, with only 54 percent of nominees to civilian executive branch positions have been confirmed, down from 77 percent under Trump’s predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
“The Trump administration is slower to fill jobs and has higher turnover than any administration we have records for,” said Max Stier, president and chief executive of the Partnership for Public Services. “If you think about our government as a manager of critical risk, we’ve upped our risk.”
Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, a veteran and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently pushed Trump to nominate Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson to replace former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, who resigned in December.
“We absolutely need to have a permanent nominee,” said Ernst. “I do have great confidence in Patrick Shanahan, I know he is the acting secretary right now. But I do feel that in order to reassure allies and also to push back on our adversaries, it’s very important that we have a permanent secretary of defense.”
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