Governing is hard without a government.
As part of a multiple-topic rant lasting several hours, Donald Trump blamed Democrats for allegedly “taking forever to approve my people, including Ambassadors”:
.@foxandfriends Dems are taking forever to approve my people, including Ambassadors. They are nothing but OBSTRUCTIONISTS! Want approvals.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 5, 2017
The problem with Trump’s false argument the Democrats are “obstructionists” is twofold. First, the Republican Party controls both the House and the Senate. Senate Republicans, not Democrats, are responsible for moving the confirmation process forward on Trump’s nominees.
Second, the Trump administration has presented names for only 21 percent of the 559 total key positions requiring Senate confirmation.
When it comes to “including ambassadors” specifically, the White House has provided only 11 out of the necessary 54 names for the vacancies. Of those nominations, five have been confirmed, two have not yet been referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for formal nomination, and only four are awaiting confirmation.
In short, Trump might “want approvals,” but even with his own party controlling Congress, he cannot get approvals for nominations he has failed to make.
Even before Trump’s inauguration, there were serious questions about how the Trump team was handling filling the necessary positions within the federal government. With each transition between presidential administrations, there are hundreds of high-level jobs vacated that require formal nomination by the incoming team and then confirmation by the United States Senate. In addition, there are thousands of other resulting vacancies within agencies that must be filled and do not require confirmation at all.
One of Trump’s first actions after taking office was to institute a 90-day federal hiring freeze via presidential memorandum. Even since lifting the hiring freeze 11 weeks later, the Trump administration has left thousands of jobs vacant, including hundreds within critical agencies like the Centers for Disease Control, by using internal managerial directives.
Meanwhile, the Trump White House has veered back and forth between Trump’s strategic adviser Steve Bannon asserting “deconstruction of the administrative state” was one of their primary goals to Trump himself boasting his administration was “running like a fine-tuned machine.”
More than four months in to his tenure, Trump appears to be realizing it is indeed hard to govern without a government. Rather than taking action or even taking responsibility, he is falling back on his habit of blaming others for his own incompetence and failures.