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Barrasso: Dems hold up nominations

August 7, 2017 GMT

The first six months of Donald Trump’s presidency have been difficult, and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, of Wyoming, is partly blaming the Democrats even though Republicans control the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, albeit narrowly.

“For more than six months, Democrats have engaged in a historic effort to obstruct the work of the Trump administration and the United States government,” he said on the floor of the Senate last week. “Normally on Inauguration Day the president gets a substantial number of people confirmed to his Cabinet. The idea is to let the president get his team in place, so they can go about hitting the ground running. That’s the way it usually works. But not anymore. Now, Democrats aren’t really interested in giving a Republican president a chance.”

He noted that former President Barack Obama had six of his Cabinet secretaries confirmed on Inauguration Day in 2009. By Trump’s inauguration he had only the Defense Department secretary and the Department of Homeland Security secretary confirmed.

“Republicans in the Senate did nothing to try to block any of those Cabinet secretaries for President Obama,” Barrasso said. “We understood that it’s best to give the new president a chance — and for all of us to work together when we can.”

By the end of January 2009, Obama had 10 of 16 Cabinet members in place compared to Trump who had only three Cabinet chiefs in their positions by the same time this year.

“That’s an incredible level of obstruction when you compare it to what’s happened historically,” Barrasso said. “And it didn’t just stop with members of the Cabinet, and it didn’t just end in January. Democrats have continued to make the Senate jump through procedural hoops.”

In Obama’s first half-year in office, 206 people were confirmed to serve in his administration. In Trump’s first six months only 55 nominees were confirmed.

“The difference is stark, and the reason is simple,” Barrasso said. “Democrats have been putting up roadblocks one after another on even the most noncontroversial of nominees.”

Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, blamed the slow pace of confirmations on the slow pace of the White House providing information.

“No administration in recent memory has been slower in sending nominations to the Senate,” the New Yorker said on the Senate floor a week ago. “That’s almost unprecedented in its degree. Time and time again they’ve stalled on providing committees the information needed. ... It’s typical of the Trump administration: Do something wrong and blame someone else for your problem.”

According to a statement from the White House, Trump sent 197 nominations for positions at federal departments and agencies to the Senate. At a similar point in 2009, the Obama administration had submitted 454 nominations for federal posts.

Despite its slow start, the White House has begun to increase its pace of nominations. In June, Trump sent 373 nominees for Senate-appointed posts, compared with just 489 during the first five months of the year combined.