Photo by Joshua Roberts/Reuters

Where Trump stands on filling key spots in his administration

Fourteen of 1,242 Senate-confirmed positions are in place a month into the Trump presidency, according to the Partnership for Public Service and the Washington Post.

Since the transition period, the nonprofit organization has been tracking what they consider to be crucial Senate-confirmed positions, beyond the two dozen Cabinet-level jobs. President of the Partnership for Public Service Max Stier explained the key positions were determined as “ones that are primarily agency, not White House jobs,” they also removed part time jobs, U.S. attorneys and marshals.

Of the 549 key positions:

  • 14 positions have been confirmed
  • 20 are awaiting confirmation
  • 515 are awaiting nomination

NewsHour went through the data collected by the Post and the PPS and found empty positions in agencies that are crucial for Trump to carry out his agenda. This isn’t quite as unusual as it sounds, Stier said. Filling up a government with capable people is a daunting task. And many important positions at federal agencies right now aren’t vacant — they’re filled with holdover officials from previous administrations.

Still, Stier said, the slow pace of replacing them with Trump-appointed officials puts the current administration at a huge disadvantage.

The Department of State has 116 positions that require Senate confirmation. So far, only two have been confirmed: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley. Three more have been announced: the ambassadors to China, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

Trump has blamed the slow pace of confirmation on Senate Democrats, saying they have stalled his top picks. Senate Democrats have helped confirm several cabinet nominees, though they have taken issue with some of Trump’s choices.

On the campaign trail, Trump was adamant on increasing our national security and dismantling the Affordable Care Act. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services are both crucial to achieving those respective goals. However, of the 16 Senate-confirmed positions at Homeland Security, only DHS Secretary John Kelly has been confirmed. Just one other has been nominated: his deputy secretary. The others, so far unnamed, includes posts like Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

At Health and Human Services, Secretary Tom Price was confirmed on Feb. 10. Price is the only key appointee in place. Similar to DHS, HHS has just one other nominee named.

“They don’t have a long-term relationship,” he said. “When you don’t have your team working well together, it won’t be effective.”