Jul 11, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Key administration posts remain vacant 6 months into Biden presidency

White House

Photo: Daniel Slim/AFP via Getty Images

Nearly six months since his presidency began, Joe Biden's administration has yet to fill key leadership positions in a number of prominent agencies, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Many of the empty positions are important to advancing the administration's agenda in areas such as the pandemic, voting rights, climate change and cracking down on corporations.

  • Temporary agency leaders aren't as empowered to pursue an aggressive policy agenda as permanent heads, and are more likely to pursue short-term, rather than long-term, goals.
  • “Acting people don’t bring that authority and can’t undertake long-term projects in the way that full-time confirmed people can," Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, told the Post.

The big picture: The reasons for the vacancies vary and the Biden administration's slow pace isn't necessarily unique.

  • The Biden administration is filling empty positions faster than the Trump administration did, but slower than Obama, according to the Post.
  • “We are ahead of several prior administrations in terms of nominations sent to the Senate for confirmation,” White House spokesman Chris Meagher told the Post.

State of play: The delays are hitting positions that are key in advancing the administration's long-term goals.

  • The United States is hoping to ease out of the pandemic even as the FDA commissioner position, which oversees the approval of drugs and vaccines, remains vacant, the Post reports.
  • The Office of Management and Budget is being manned by an acting director, despite the efforts to use budget reconciliation to pass the president's "human infrastructure" plan.
  • Even as Biden cracks down on corporations, the antitrust position at the Justice Department, as well as the assistant attorney general for antitrust, both remain vacant.
  • A number of other key regulatory roles remain open, including a seat on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
  • Biden also hasn't nominated a solicitor general, even as the federal government hopes to confront GOP-led efforts to curb voting access.

Go deeper: Biden vacancies delay Big Tech reckoning

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that there are not currently vacancies on the Council on Environmental Quality.

Go deeper