Democrats, and even now some conservatives, have criticized the Trump administration for dragging its feet when it comes to filling out hundreds of federal government vacancies over the last seven months. While some have blamed Democrats for being slow to confirm political nominees, the fact remains that many non-political jobs have gone unfilled for one reason or another.
With Hurricane Harvey’s destruction demonstrating the need for an efficient and responsive federal government, conservative commentator Laura Ingraham wondered if the Trump administration was doing everything necessary to get things up and running at full capacity.
“I think we can all look at these horrific pictures, and we can conclude a federal government does need staff. We see it acutely in need of staff in a situation like this,” Ingraham said Tuesday. “We’re facing a crisis of confidence across the country where people wonder—even with President Trump in, he said he was going to drain the swamp—can we have a government that works for the people and not just have a people enslaved to the government?”
In response, Trump tweeted that leaving those positions open was not a failure of leadership. Rather, it was a conscious choice to save money.
“We are not looking to fill all of those positions,” Trump wrote. “Don’t need many of them – reduce size of government.”
According to the Daily Caller, there are 591 key federal positions that require Senate confirmation. Of those, only 117 have been filled by President Trump. Another 106 are in the queue, waiting for the Senate to confirm the nominees. 366 are completely vacant, with no nominee on deck.
In her comments, which were made on Fox & Friends, Ingraham left open the possibility that Trump was leaving many positions open on purpose. Still, she argued, there were major agenda items – such as the renegotiation of NAFTA – that would require a full staff working around the clock.
“That’s a major undertaking and they’re doing it with a much smaller staff, and it’s really not ideal,” Ingraham said. “I mean, this is a question that has to be posed to the administration. I know they have a lot on their hands, but we have to have people in place. If there’s a plan to not staff and cause the ultimate shrinkage of government, then let’s hear about that as well.”
Both Ingraham and the president make good points here, but we think Ingraham might be getting out ahead of herself. Let’s wait and see the proof that Trump’s unfilled positions act as a drag on the federal government’s response time in Texas…or, for that matter, make it impossible to renegotiate NAFTA effectively. Until there is concrete evidence that these vacant positions are creating a major problem, there’s no reason to go looking for one. Republicans always TALK about shrinking the size of the government; now we have a president willing to put his money where his mouth is.
The American people elected Trump to make bold moves that would shake up the system. That means taking risks. The least we can do is wait and see how those risks pay off.