Having apparently temporarily misplaced his Android phone after his joint address to Congress, President Trump has relocated it (probably on the nightstand in the Lincoln bedroom) and has resumed his habit of angry early morning tweeting about his political opponents.
On Friday morning, his target was Democrats on Capitol Hill who he said are still blocking his Cabinet picks from being approved.
It is so pathetic that the Dems have still not approved my full Cabinet.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 3, 2017
It’s hard to overstate what nonsense this is.
It is true that, at one time, Senate Democrats were dragging their heels on Trump’s Cabinet picks. In January, members of the party boycotted committee votes to advance nominees to the full Senate, slowing the process. In recent weeks, however, the process has happened in regular bursts. Three Cabinet picks have been approved in the last two days.
How does Trump compare to past presidents? At this moment, he has two unconfirmed Cabinet positions — the same as Barack Obama had on Mar. 3, 2009. In fact, only three of the last six presidents have had their entire Cabinets in place at this point.
Remember: The Democrats don’t control the Senate. While they were able to throw some hurdles in the path of the president — hurdles that Republicans overcame by changing the rules to allow a vote without Democrats present — there was nothing they could do to block nominees entirely.
So what’s the hold-up on the two empty slots? Well, one is his nominee for Secretary of Labor. His first pick, Andrew Puzder, withdrew last month and Trump nominated Alexander Acosta in his stead. There’s a natural delay built-in to that switchover.
But the main problem is that neither that pick nor Trump’s pick to run the Department of Agriculture have been sent to the Senate yet.
Senate Republicans are baffled that the White House hasn’t yet sent over the necessary paperwork for Sonny Perdue, his late pick to run Agriculture. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chair of the Senate committee that will forward Perdue’s nomination, told ABC News on Wednesday that he didn’t know when to expect Perdue’s formal nomination. “I wish to hell I did,” Roberts said. “We need a champion for agriculture, we need him on board.”
Trump’s team also hasn’t sent over Acosta’s paperwork — something that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) subtly pointed out in a tweet on Thursday evening.
After the votes taken earlier this afternoon, the U.S. Senate has now confirmed all of the available Cabinet nominations.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 3, 2017
The president has embraced the idea that the opposing party is behind all of his problems, blaming them for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ current troubles and for the regular protests over the course of his presidency. But in this case in particular, the Democrats aren’t to blame.
The buck, as they say, stops with the president. Whether he likes it or not.