At the first full Cabinet meeting of his administration Monday, President Donald Trump blamed Senate Democrats for slowing the nomination process for members of his administration, despite his own failure to nominate anyone for the vast majority of presidential appointments he has left to fill.
“Due to a record long delay in confirmation, and the confirmation process, by the Senate Democrats, which I call the obstructionists — maybe they’ll change, but I doubt it for a while, but they are truly obstructionists — this is our first Cabinet meeting with the entire Cabinet present,” Trump said. “The confirmation process has been record-setting long, and I mean record-setting long, with some of the finest people in our country being delayed and delayed and delayed.”
“But that’s — Much of that is over, and now we are going through, as you know, the regular process with people at other levels of government,” he added. “And that’s a very long process also, including ethics committee, which has become very difficult to deal with.”
He congratulated Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Labor Alex Acosta, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for their Senate confirmations. Coats was confirmed on March 15; Perdue and Acosta were confirmed in late April; and Lighthizer was confirmed on May 11.
However, despite their lengthy confirmation processes, Trump also nominated the four individuals weeks after their Obama administration counterparts were nominated following the 2008 election.
And according to the Washington Post’s count of hundreds of key nominations, produced in partnership with the non-profit group Partnership for Public Service, Trump is lagging significantly behind his four most recent predecessors in the nominations his administration has sent to the Senate for consideration.
The lack of nominees for important vacancies appears to be partly by design. Chief White House strategist Steve Bannon told the Conservative Political Action Conference in February that one of the administration’s top three priorities was “deconstruction of the administrative state,” which included, he said, picking a Cabinet dedicated to that goal.
“The way the progressive left runs is if they can’t get it passed, they’re just going to put it in some kind of regulation in an agency,” he said at the time. “That’s all going to be deconstructed.”
CNN Money reported June 7, citing the same Partnership for Public Service data, that Trump had nominated individuals to fill just 111 of more-than-1,100 positions requiring Senate approval. The publication reported that “[n]o president in modern history has fallen so far behind” in filling key positions.