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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

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.

Updated Oct 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Facebook paying up to $14M to settle employment discrimination claims

Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Facebook has agreed to pay up to $14.25 million to settle allegations that it discriminated against U.S. workers by reserving positions for temporary visa holders, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The settlement represents the largest civil penalty and monetary award that the Civil Rights Division has recovered in the 35-year history of the Immigration and Nationality Act's anti-discrimination provision.

14 mins ago - Technology

Facebook changes corporate name to Meta

Screen shot of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company's "Connect" virtual event

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday said the social media company is rebranding its company Meta.

Why it matters: The effort is meant to shift its image from a social media giant to a “metaverse” company that focuses on building virtual work and social communities.