The Biden administration is contending with a confirmation process backlog for a host of key officials far surpassing that experienced by former President Donald Trump, and the delays may threaten the current president’s ability to pursue his policy agenda, according to the Washington Examiner.
White House officials are reportedly frustrated with Senate Republicans they feel are intentionally putting the brakes on getting President Joe Biden’s picks into place, leaving staffing levels historically low at the commencement of the planned late summer recess.
The problem has become so severe, according to some Biden allies, that the administration’s hands may be substantially tied in terms of fulfilling key campaign pledges in advance of the 2022 midterms, a fact which could tip the legislative balance for the remainder of the president’s term.
As Max Stier of the Partnership for Public Service told Politico earlier this month, having a roster of “acting” officials in important roles may prevent the president from accomplishing things he expected would be signature achievements of his time in office.
“We’re missing critical leadership in our government,” Stier said, adding, “Yes, there are people in acting roles, and they can be amazing, but they don’t have the same political horizon. It’s the substitute teacher phenomenon. You’re there to keep the class going, but you’re not there for the long haul.”
Biden administration spokesperson Chris Meagher emphasized the history nature of the dilemma, revealing that the number of Biden nominees already confirmed is well shy of the tally of confirmations secured by the four prior commanders in chief.
Noting that the situation is particularly dire in the foreign policy and national security realms, Meagher added how crucial it is for the Senate to “move forward as quickly as possible with [Biden’s] qualified, experienced nominees,” according to the Examiner.
The outlet also noted that at the same point in his administration, Trump had nominated 308 individuals to key posts, with 130 having obtained confirmation, leaving a backlog of just 178, while Biden is presently suffering from a staggering backlog of 278 unfilled roles.
Though Republicans in the upper chamber have shown a disappointing unwillingness to push back materially on things such as Biden’s massive, free-wheeling “infrastructure” spending, it is at least somewhat reassuring that, as the Examiner points out, Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) have taken concrete steps to delay the confirmation of a number of the president’s personnel picks in protest of other major administration policy stances.