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Why Does Trump Still Have So Many Vacancies to Fill?

What's Behind the Delay in Appointments

U.S. President Donald Trump departs past the empty seats of Democratic members of Congress in Washington, February 2017. Carlos Barria / REUTERS

U.S. President Donald Trump has recently made headlines for the many government jobs he has left unfilled. As of April 25, the U.S. Senate had confirmed only 26 of Trump’s executive branch appointments. Of the remaining 1,028 positions that require Senate approval (also known as PAS positions), a mere 37 nominations were awaiting a Senate vote, and 40 had been announced but not formally nominated. In terms of confirmations, Trump has fallen behind his most recent White House predecessors; at the hundred-day mark, Barack Obama had 69 confirmed; George W. Bush had 35; Bill Clinton, 49; and George H. W. Bush, 50.

Because of the expanding volume of appointments, increased vetting, and growing political polarization, the pace of presidential appointments has been slowing steadily for the past half century. From 1964 to 1984, 48 percent of presidential nominees were confirmed within two months. From 1984 to 1999, only 15 percent were confirmed within the same timespan. The average number of days to

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