Do Diplomatic and Defense Vacancies Risk U.S. Security?

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When a new U.S. president takes office the January after an election, his or her administration takes over not only the world’s strongest and most powerful military, but also a robust and complex foreign policy bureaucracy. From the moment of inauguration, the work done by the incoming president’s transition team in selecting, vetting, and nominating political appointees, as well as career professionals, who share the president’s policy agenda, is then meant to swiftly translate into getting those appointees confirmed by the Senate and installed throughout the dozens of agencies that make up the federal government.

As of September 15th, President Donald Trump had nominated 347 individuals, 140 of which had been confirmed. Compare this to the same point in the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama: by mid-September, Bush had nominated 573 with 316 confirmations; Obama 450 with 321 confirmations. And out of Trump’s numbers, only 24 individuals have been confirmed at the Department of State (compared to 83 and 86 respectively by the former presidents) and 15 at the Department of Defense (compared to 22 and 33).

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