The Senate just confirmed dozens of Trump appointees

The Senate used a voice vote on Wednesday to confirm 77 nominees to various positions of power

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published January 4, 2019 4:24PM (EST)

Chuck Schumer; Mitch McConnell; Donald Trump (AP/Salon)
Chuck Schumer; Mitch McConnell; Donald Trump (AP/Salon)

On Wednesday evening, the United States Senate decided to display some rare bipartisanship by confirming dozens of President Donald Trump's appointees using a voice vote.

The 77 nominees include an ambassadorship to Yemen, which is currently in the midst of a civil war backed by the controversial Saudi Arabian government, a Census director to oversee the 2020 Census and a new director of National Drug Control Policy, according to CBS News. Because Democrats have taken a strong stand against a number of Trump's judicial nominations, most of the candidates appointed on Wednesday evening will hold executive branch positions.

Despite the lack of judicial confirmations on Wednesday evening, Trump has had a record year overall when it comes to pushing through his nominees for top court positions. In 2018 Trump managed to appoint more than twice as many judges to federal appeals courts than it had in the previous year, and surpassed the previous five presidents in terms of the pace at which he stocked America's courts, according to an analysis by Lambda Legal that was reported by NPR.  Lambda Legal determined that five of the country's 12 circuit courts now have at least 25 percent of their bench filled by judges who were appointed by Trump, with the 8th Circuit having experienced the "most significant transformation" and the 7th Circuit and 5th Circuit courts following it. The 8th Circuit includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota, while the 7th Circuit includes Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin and the 5th Circuit includes Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

Yet Trump's ability to staff up various judicial positions has not translated into similar successes in both staffing and retaining officers for executive jobs. Presently he has not nominated official replacements for Chief of Staff John Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, although there are various individuals currently running those departments on an interim basis. Similarly his nominees for Attorney General (William Barr), United Nations Ambassador (Heather Nauert) and Environmental Protection Agency administrator (Andrew Wheeler) have not yet been confirmed. Those positions were recently vacated by Jeff Sessions, Nikki Haley and Scott Pruitt, respectively.

Last month The New York Times offered some perspective on the high rate of personnel turnover in Trump's administration.

A New York Times analysis of 21 top White House and cabinet positions back to President Bill Clinton’s first term shows how unusual the Trump administration’s upheaval was through the first 14 months of a presidency. Nine of these positions had turned over at least once during the Trump administration, compared with three at the same point of the Clinton administration, two under President Barack Obama and one under President George W. Bush.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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