Nearly halfway through his first year in office, Biden has sent more nominations to the Senate and has had more people confirmed than the Trump administration did at the same point, though Biden still lags behind other White House predecessors.
But since then, a combination of troubled picks and Senate intransigence has left Biden facing a handful of crises without key, confirmed leadership. The 50-50 Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote, has also complicated efforts to fill administration slots.
As the Senate returns from its July 4th break, lawmakers face a slew of pending nominations for various posts in the Biden administration. More than 200 nominations were awaiting Senate confirmation at the start of this month, according to new data from the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service.
“The Senate has a huge role to play here. The pace of Senate confirmations has slowed substantially over the last 30 to 40 years or so,” said Loren DeJonge Schulman, vice president for research and evaluation at the Partnership.
This trend is now yielding a “backlog” of nominees “waiting for their opportunity to have an up-or-down vote,” said Schulman.
The delays could pose public health and national security risks and make it harder for the President to accomplish his agenda.
Across the Biden administration, departments are also seeing several of their top leadership positions without a formal Biden nominee, although in some cases they’re filled by officials serving in acting capacities.
The President has yet to name someone to permanently lead an agency at the forefront of the coronavirus fight: the FDA.
Now facing a confluence of major challenges, the Biden administration is under pressure to name more nominees — and get their pending ones confirmed as swiftly as possible.
“We are ahead of prior administrations in terms of nominations sent to the Senate for confirmation, and we have outstanding acting leaders at OMB and FDA, and we look forward to nominating qualified people to these positions,” White House spokesperson Chris Meagher said in a statement. “We also are hopeful that Senate Republicans will cease using time-consuming floor mechanics to hold up our more than 200 extremely qualified, experienced nominees — many of which will be working on important matters of national security and will receive broad bipartisan support — to begin the important work ahead of them.”
Key agencies impacted by Senate backlog
When it comes to national security, Schulman says the White House is “incredibly inhibited by the lack of appointees that they have confirmed, whether it be at the Department of State, the Department of Defense, or elsewhere.”
As the White House rolled out a series of immigration measures over recent months, the nominated leaders of the agencies charged with overseeing parts of the immigration system are also still awaiting confirmation.
The three agencies under the Department of Homeland Security — US Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection — are all operating under acting leadership, until those selected to lead are confirmed by the Senate. It’s become familiar territory for each agency after rotating leadership under former President Donald Trump. ICE, which is currently led by career official Tae Johnson, never had a Senate-confirmed director during the four years of the Trump administration.
Ur Jaddou, who was selected to serve as USCIS director, already had her hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee and was voted on favorably. She’s now on the Senate executive calendar. Jaddou was formerly chief counsel at the agency under President Barack Obama and led the Biden-Harris DHS transition review team.
But still missing on the calendar is Biden’s nominee to head CBP, Tucson, Arizona, police chief Chris Magnus. The agency, which is currently led by acting Commissioner Troy Miller, was confronted with an increase of migrants at the US-Mexico border this year that led to overcrowded facilities and unaccompanied children staying in custody for prolonged periods of time.
Nominations by the numbers
By all accounts, compared to the Trump administration, Biden is seeing both larger numbers of nominations and confirmations in the Senate.
Data from the Partnership for Public Service, which is tracking civilian nominations that require Senate confirmation, shows Biden outpaced the previous administration with 304 nominations and 91 confirmations at the start of July.
Then-President Trump, meanwhile, had 213 nominations and roughly half the confirmations — at 49 — during the same point in his administration.
Although he’s outpacing Trump on confirmations, Biden is still behind Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, who both saw larger numbers of individuals confirmed — 179 and 130 respectively — at that point in their presidential tenures, according to the Partnership’s data.
Biden’s number of nominations is also slightly lower than that of Obama (325) and Bush (308).
“It’s the pace of confirmations that I think is pretty notable, given how far behind he is” from Obama and Bush, Schulman notes.
And while the Biden administration “can’t control how quickly the Senate moves,” she contends, they can still play a role in emphasizing this issue in conversations with Senate leadership.
CNN’s Priscilla Alvarez and Kristen Holmes contributed to this report.Checkout latest world news below links :
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