Diamond’s nomination, which was originally made in April 2010, had become a symbol of the government’s near-paralysis at nominating and confirming nominees to fill vacancies in the upper echelons of the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and financial regulators.
The gaps are particularly striking, given the nation’s sluggish economic recovery, persistent unemployment and a vast effort involving numerous agencies to write rules required by last year’s sweeping overhaul of financial regulations.
And a new gap will soon be created as Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, has decided to return this fall to his position as a professor at the University of Chicago.
Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner warned Monday that a failure by the Senate to confirm nominees to run federal regulators would be especially harmful because the agencies are trying to write hundreds of new financial rules.
“They will make it less likely that there will be enough capable people in the regulatory bodies to bring the care and judgment necessary for the new rules to work,” Geithner said. “They will create the conditions again for a situation in which the weak and poorly managed risk bringing down the financial system again.”
The list of positions for which Obama has not made nominations or Republicans have blocked or vowed to block nominees runs long.
Key housing positions are vacant. Earlier this year Republicans blocked Obama’s nominee to head the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Federal Housing Administration, which oversees loans to first-time home buyers, needs a new commissioner.
Republicans have vowed to block the appointment of Obama’s new nominee to lead the Commerce Department, John Bryson, over disagreements on trade policy and of Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren to serve as head of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which many Republicans oppose.
“We remain disappointed that nominees are falling victim to partisan obstructionism or even just languishing in Congress,” said White House spokeswoman Amy Brundage. “We believe we need strong, well-qualified individuals to be leading the agencies and look forward to swift confirmations of those already nominated and additional nominees in short order.”