DC Daily – February 9, 2017

 In Today’s Issue:

  • Nominations in Context
  • Congressional Expectations
  • Earmarks on the Way?

THE PACE OF NOMINATIONS

The Trump team is on par with Obama for nominations, but behind on winning Senate confirmations.

According to the AP’s Ken Thomas: “Trump’s team has nominated 35 people to fill 693 high-level positions that require Senate confirmation, according to … the Partnership for Public Service. At this stage in 2009, Obama’s administration had nominated 38.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions yesterday became “the eighth member of Trump’s administration to be confirmed; at this point eight years ago Obama had 23 officials confirmed, including department heads and deputies. … [T]ypically about 225 Senate confirmed positions are filled by the annual congressional recess in August.”

The current administration has yet to win confirmation for Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, EPA, HUD, Interior, Labor, Small Business, Veterans Affairs, OMB, Director of National Intelligence, and the U.S. Trade Representative. The Administration has yet to pick a Solicitor General as well as heads of the Transportation Security Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and FEMA.

Mapping the Staffing

THE ROAD AHEAD

The current slow pace of congressional activity is indicative of a contentious and divided legislature in the months ahead.

One reason is that Democrats are under increasing pressure from their bases to oppose the administration’s agenda. Delaying nominations simultaneously delays implementing larger agenda initiatives.

Congress will have to keep the government funded after April 28, lift the debt ceiling by the spring or summer, and pass a supplemental spending bill that will include likely budget increases for the Pentagon, and potentially a border wall. Those items will be time consuming.

EARMARKS MAKE A COMEBACK?

The House Rules Committee had picked next week to host an original jurisdiction hearing on bringing back earmarks, but panel leaders have pushed off that plan. The tentative timeline wasn’t announced publicly, and the committee hasn’t settled on a new date. The latest internal guidance suggests the hearing won’t be held until the week of Feb. 27, at the earliest. In addition to outside witnesses, the committee is considering calling on lawmakers to testify.