Senate Republican Policy Committee
Senator John Barrasso, Chairman
July 25, 2017
- President Obama had 206 of his nominees confirmed in the first six months of his administration, while President Trump has had only 55 nominees confirmed.
- Ten nominees have been confirmed with 80 or more votes – earning the support of most Democrats – yet still required cloture to be filed.
- Key positions remain open, despite favorable committee action, including four deputy secretaries, eight federal judges, and eight members of independent boards or commissions.
In the first six months of President Trump’s administration, he made 257 nominations to important judicial and administration positions, yet the Senate confirmed only 55 of these nominees. These confirmation delays result mostly from Democrats putting up roadblocks on even the most non-controversial nominees and insisting that Republicans file cloture on the majority of nominations.
First Six Months: Nominees Confirmed
CONFIRMATIONS ON INAUGURATION DAY
In the past, even senators not in the president’s party recognized the importance of allowing the new commander in chief to get his team in place quickly. Recent presidents have had many cabinet secretaries confirmed on Inauguration Day – and the vast majority of secretaries were in the job before the end of January.
Cabinet Secretaries Confirmed Early in an Administration
Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton had nearly their whole cabinets in place in their first two weeks in office. President Obama had 10 cabinet secretaries confirmed by the end of his first January in office; President George W. Bush had 13; and President Clinton had 13. It took 39 days for President Trump to have 10 cabinet secretaries in place.
SLOW PACE AFTER FIRST SIX MONTHS
The slow pace of confirmations has continued through the first six months of the Trump administration. In prior administrations, the sheer volume of nominees requiring Senate confirmation – currently 1,242 civilian positions – resulted in the Senate using expedited procedures for most nominees after they had been vetted by the committee of jurisdiction. Only rarely had confirming a nominee required debate to be cut off using cloture.
Confirming almost any nominee during the current administration, however, has required cloture to be filed – even for nominees with overwhelming bipartisan support. Just five of President Trump’s nominees have been confirmed by unanimous consent or voice vote, and 50 required roll call votes.
Trump Vs. Obama: Times Cloture Filed on Nominees in First Six Months
Number of Votes for Trump Nominees after Cloture Was Filed
Key Administration Posts Await Senate Action
The delays have left the executive branch critically understaffed. Currently 58 senior administration positions are vacant despite having been reported favorably by the committee. All that remains for these nominations is confirmation by the full Senate. Until these vacancies are filled, agencies will be unable to perform many of their statutory duties. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been without a quorum since February 3 and is unable to approve new energy infrastructure projects.
· Mark Green, administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development
ADDITIONAL VACANCIES AWAITING SENATE ACTION
Highlighting how much work remains, nominees are facing a long road to confirmation due to the ongoing blockade. For example, the president has nominated 24 people to key positions in the Department of Defense, 15 of which were sent to the full Senate, but only seven have been confirmed. The Justice Department has had 29 nominees so far, and just three have been confirmed. The Department of Health and Human Services has had just three of 13 nominations confirmed.
Nominees Confirmed vs. Awaiting Action
In addition to filling administration jobs, the Senate must also confirm nominees to the judiciary. There are 135 vacant judicial branch positions, of which 52 are considered “emergencies.” The Senate has only confirmed four judicial nominations this year.
Circuit Courts of Appeals Vacancies