President Donald Trump is poised to end 2017 without announcing nominees for over 200 positions requiring Senate confirmation.
“A lot of those jobs, I don’t want to appoint, because they’re unnecessary to have,” Trump told Fox News in February when there were over 600 senior positions lacking nominees. “You know, we have so many people in government, even me. I look at some of the jobs and it’s people over people over people. I say, ‘What do all these people do?’ You don’t need all those jobs.”
Trump’s position has remained consistent.
“The President has said before he doesn’t think that every single position in the government needs to be filled. He’s going to cut back on some of those positions,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said during a recent press briefing.
The lack of nominees, however, means that career bureaucrats and some Obama appointees currently hold these senior positions. The State Department’s undersecretary of political affairs, for example, is Thomas Shannon, a career diplomat who was nominated for the role by former President Barack Obama.
The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan organization, have determined that there are 249 Senate-confirmable positions lacking nominees.
A former Republican presidential personnel official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Caller that Trump’s lack of nominees isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“It’s not as if these big federal agencies aren’t full of people, the question is are they implementing the president’s agenda or is it business as usual,” the former official said, adding that he hopes lower level political appointees are “providing oversight or performing the functions.”
“When you look at State, Secretary Tillerson is reviewing how the whole building works so I can understand a hesitation to fill roles if you plan to do a big re-org,” the official noted.
Tillerson said in a September speech that he wants to create the State Department “of the future.”
One source close to the Trump administration, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out to TheDC that most of these agencies were structured in a post-World War II environment and the organizational layout is outdated.
However outdated these agencies might be, Trump still doesn’t have political allies in prominent positions such as deputy secretary of the Commerce Department or as head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
The former Republican White House official insisted that the “leviathan” of the federal government would still undermine Trump even with people in these roles.
“The federal government is full of very nice people who take their jobs seriously who, by in large, have no interest in #MAGA as the president has envisioned it, and can gum up the works,” the former Republican White House official said. “Just because you have not appointed a director to some small agency does not mean that agency disappears. It is still full of career staff spending money and making decisions.”
“Bureaucracies are very hard to tame in any circumstance. This is especially true when no one is there to keep an eye on it. If they feel that what they want done is getting done, then great. But it is so massive and so many opportunities exist for shenanigans that I hope they have a way to keep things in line.”