The President Needs a Full Roster
By Sen. John Thune
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Christopher Wray. He was nominated by the president to serve as the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Christopher is eager to get to work leading the thousands of dedicated men and women at the FBI who work hard to protect the United States every single day. While I’m confident Christopher would report to the Hoover Building tomorrow if he could, my Democrat colleagues have unnecessarily dragged their feet on his and other nominations.
Hundreds of presidential nominees like Christopher must first come before the Senate for vetting, a committee hearing, and ultimately consideration on the Senate floor. This is an important and centuries-old Constitutional process – one that I don’t take lightly. Many of these nominees come through the committee I chair, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. We’ve worked hard to process as many of them as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
The Senate’s duty to provide its advice and consent is critical and should be timely. Yes, it’s important for the president to have his team place, but it’s more important for these federal agencies to be staffed-up because of the work they do for the American people. These are the folks who help “keep the trains running” at agencies like the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture and help protect the United States at the U.S. Departments of Defense and Homeland Security.
Unfortunately, my Democrat colleagues have ground the confirmation process on the Senate floor nearly to halt – not because they have problems with the qualifications of the nominees, but because they think they’re punishing the president. Again, it’s ultimately the American people who pay the price when federal agencies don’t have the right people in place to deliver the services and safeguards upon which so many folks rely.
To put it in real terms, as of July 25, only 55 of President Trump’s nominees, which include judges and administration officials, had been confirmed by the Senate, and more than half of those nominees had to overcome unnecessary filibusters. During that same period of time in 2009, President Obama had more than 200 nominees confirmed. With respect to cabinet nominees, by the end of January 2017, President Trump had just three of his cabinet secretaries confirmed. By the end of January 2009, the Senate had confirmed 10 of President Obama’s cabinet secretaries.
This is obstruction for the sake of obstruction. I hope my Democrat colleagues realize sooner rather than later that it’s just as important for this president to have a full roster in his administration as it was for the last president. The American people deserve it.