Jan 20, 2022 - Politics & Policy

First look: Biden's Year One turnover

Percentage of “A-Team” turnover during first year of presidency
Data: Brookings Institution; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Low first-year turnover among President Biden's senior staff marks a "return to normalcy" and a sign of stability after the Trump years, says a new Brookings Institution report reviewed by Axios.

Driving the news: The departure of five out of 66 "A-Team" officials puts Biden's departure rate as the third-lowest since Ronald Reagan's presidency, above only George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush, the report found.

  • It measured turnover in senior-staff positions that do not need to be confirmed by the Senate.
  • By comparison, the report counted departures of 23 of a core group of 65 in Trump's first year.

Why it matters: It's one positive measure for Biden in a sea of bad news. His approval ratings have sunk to the low 40s, COVID continues to plague Americans' health and economy and Republicans and key holdouts in his own party have thus far denied him wins on his promised voter reforms or Build Back Better agenda.

  • Another new report by the Partnership for Public Service, analyzing Biden's presidential transition, found that by the end of 2021, only 56% of key national security positions requiring Senate confirmation had been filled.

What they're saying: Scholar Kathryn Dunn Tenpas, who authored the Brookings report, tells Axios the findings reflect "a core stability within the administration" and "not a lot of drama. They're trying to sort of recoup where we were before the Trump administration."

  • She said high-level departures can create inefficiencies and trigger other departures, threatening a president's agenda.

What we're expecting: More departures in 2022.

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