If the first five weeks of the Biden administration has shown anything, it is that the 50-50 split of Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Senate will prevent much of Biden’s legislative agenda. More controversial proposals like gun control might never get passed as this gridlock has already shown that traditionally more agreeable issues, such as presidential nominations, are difficult sells.
Democrats cannot afford to lose even a single vote. And, should they miscount, the failed vote would suggest Democrats are not really in power—even though they control the White House and a majority in the House of Representatives.
So, as Axios reports, the Senate has only sluggishly confirmed 11 of Biden’s record-high 55 nominations as of February 25.
“President Biden has submitted more nominees to the Senate — but received fewer confirmations — than recent presidents, data from The Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition shows,” the report details.
Within the first 5 weeks of recent administrations, President Trump had 31 appointees for the Senate to consider—14 were approved. Former President Obama had 45 nominees and saw 29 of them confirmed. Former Presidents George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton each appointed far fewer nominees—20 and 28, respectively—and they were mostly confirmed—18 and 24, respectively.
According to the report, disagreements between Democratic members and delaying the transition team are not the only factor in delaying the confirmations:
The new president is facing a pandemic without a surgeon general or head of the Department of Health and Human Services, he confronts an economic crisis without his leaders at Labor or Commerce and domestic terrorism is on the rise with no attorney general, said Max Stier, the partnership’s president and CEO.
The big picture: The Georgia runoffs, a delayed Senate power-sharing agreement and President Trump’s second impeachment trial all contributed to the Senate slowdown.