The Washington Post reports that “nearly a year into President Trump’s administration, the Justice Department lacks Senate-confirmed appointees in leadership posts running the national security, criminal, civil rights and other key divisions.” “The problem shows no sign of abating anytime soon,” the Post adds.
The Post is correct. Not only are key leadership posts vacant, but it now appears they will remain vacant until at least the Spring.
Moreover, this creates a serious problem. William Barr, a former Attorney General told the Post that “anyone who has worked in an administration knows how damaging it is” not to have key leadership positions filled.
As the Post’s Matt Zapotosky notes, Republicans control the Senate. So why are these nominations languishing?
The primary reason is obstruction by Senate Democrats. They have used procedural tactics to delay the confirmation of President Trump’s nominees. Chuck Schumer admitted as much to the Post, defending his obstruction by pointing to “substantive concerns,” as if Republicans had no substantive concerns with Obama nominees who were confirmed more swiftly.
Schumer says there is no department that needs more scrutiny than the DOJ. Arguably. But when a nominee whose name the president put forward many months ago has received a hearing and a committee vote, the Democrats have had a full opportunity scrutinize him.
Yet a number of such nominees apparently are months away from confirmation. Why? As I understand it, the reason is that Majority Leader McConnell agreed with Schumer that nominees who cleared committee, without Democratic support must be voted out of committee again — surely, a pointless exercise. Since Democrats declined to vote for most of President Trump’s key DOJ nominees when they were approved by he Senate Judiciary Committee, this means more delay.
Schumer told the Post “there is bipartisan opposition to many of the nominees due to the lack of independence that many of the nominees and appointees have demonstrated.” Rubbish. Most of these nominees cleared committee on a straight party line vote. These nominees are being held up not because of “bipartisan opposition,” but because Schumer has succeeded in stalling the process.
Meanwhile, Chai Feldblum, the main architect of President Obama’s radical LGBT policy, apparently is on the fast track to confirmation for a third term as EEOC commissioner. Naturally, she encountered no Democratic opposition and, I gather, no Republican on the Health Education, Labor & Pensions Committee has opposed her, either.
Thus, as I understand it, Feldblum’s nomination can proceed to the Senate floor without delay. Indeed, she is sufficiently confident about her prospects for prompt confirmation to have removed the obligatory picture of President Trump from her office.
It seems inconceivable that, with a Republican in the White House and a GOP majority in the Senate, a left-wing LBGT activist could be sailing towards confirmation as EEOC commissioner, while a host of Republican nominees to vital positions at the DOJ are cooling their heels, waiting to get through committee a second time with no full Senate vote in sight. Yet, that appears to be the situation.
Chuck Schumer is earning his pay. Senate Republicans, not so much.