There are over 1,200 positions in the US government (not counting judges or military appointments) that require the US Senate to confirm a candidate nominated by the president. (These are a subset of about 3,700 positions that require the president to appoint someone, but most of the positions in this broader group don\’t require Senate confirmation.) Often, the people appointed to these positions have a reasonable degree of day-to-day discretion in decision-making: in that sense, as those inside the DC beltway like to say, \”personnel is policy.: As President Trump pushes ahead with his proposed appointments, what is the historical record of success for such appointments in the US Senate? Anne Joseph O’Connell compiles the evidence in \”Staffing federal agencies: Lessons from 1981-2016,\” a report written for the Brookings Institution (April 17, 2017).
Here\’s a figure showing the success rate of presidential appointments in receiving Senate confirmation going back to the 97th Congress, during the 1981-82 at the start of President Reagan\’s first term.
\”Failure rates, however, increased for free-standing executive agencies, within and outside the Executive Office of the President, and for national councils. More surprisingly, confirmation delays for agency nominations increased across the board. For those successful 2013 nominations (a few of which were actually confirmed in December after the change), they took 95 days, on average. In 2014, delays ballooned to 150 days. Indeed, it was the biggest jump in any given year in an administration between any two presidents.\”
\”Interestingly, President Obama submitted fewer nominations (2828) than any of the other two-term presidents. President George W. Bush submitted the highest (3459); Presidents Reagan and Clinton each submitted around 3000 (2929 and 3014, respectively)…. President Obama submitted fewer nominations than his predecessors, allowing acting officials to fill in for many important positions. President Trump could follow suit.\”