Saturday, August 05, 2017
Billy Long: No recent president had had to deal with the gridlock Trump has faced
After last Novembers election, the incoming Trump administration reached out to me in order to assist in staffing several agencies. Their request was for me to submit names, of both Republicans and Democrats from my district that would be willing to serve our country.
This was a time-consuming effort, as I made lots of calls to individuals to assess what if any interest they may have in working in different agencies. Whether it was the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Department of Agriculture, etc., I was determined to send names of our areas best and brightest to the President. Job titles from Undersecretary and on down the line were included.
So on July 26th, when I saw on my calendar that I had a morning meeting with HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson and a noon meeting with HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price, I was anxious to see how the staffing process was going and if any 7th District folks were under serious consideration for positions. Dr. Carson shook his head and said: “Billy, I’m the only Senate confirmed member of my team to this point,” then he added (half kidding), “one thing about it, I’ve had to learn everything about every department myself.” At lunch when I posed the same question to Dr. Price, the answer was similar: “So far we have three Senate confirmed positions filled, and that’s including myself.”
President Trump has been in office for over six months, yet many in Washington seem to have a hard time accepting the results of the election. No recent president has had to deal with the type of gridlock President Trump has faced. At this point during President Obama’s presidency, he had 228 nominees confirmed. President Bush had 208. How many does President Trump have? Just 60. That’s unacceptable. There are more than 1,200 presidential appointments with Senate confirmation positions to fill, and roughly half are key positions that play an important role for an effective executive branch.
I understand the Senate, just like the House, has procedures that need to be followed to confirm these appointments. However, many Senate Democrats have gone out of their way to make this process longer than it should be and has been for past administrations.
It’s time to stop wasting valuable time and get these agencies functioning for the American people. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to work towards quickly confirming President Trump’s nominees. The American people deserve better.