Republican lawmakers in Congress are starting to question the legitimacy and appropriateness of President Donald Trump’s use of “acting” advisers within his administration.
The White House is facing a great many difficulties when it comes to its relationship with Congress overall, especially with Democrats continuing investigations into the president’s business dealings. The White House is stalling on handing over documents demanded by House committee leaders, for example.
But it’s not just Democrats who have criticisms of Trump as of late. Republican lawmakers, particularly in the Senate, are also worried about a president who is, day-by-day, expanding the power of his office through ignoring those orders, as well as failing to nominate permanent leaders to head his executive agencies.
“This is a non-traditional presidency. And the President now believes he doesn’t need a lot of advisers because he wants to do it himself,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) complained, per reporting from CNN.
😡😡 “Trump's reliance on acting secretaries to run his Cabinet … allows them to avoid the Senate confirmation process and his officials to temporarily escape nomination hearings intended to get their positions on the record and accountable to oversight” https://t.co/u1mGjgl05P
— Tracy Loughlin (@Tracy_Loughlin) April 15, 2019
Others noted that Trump’s refusal to name permanent Cabinet secretaries to replace his “acting” advisers makes it difficult for them to have a say in how the federal government is run.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) says the strategy by Trump to appoint “acting” leaders is “not a good situation.”
“I think this is the way our system needs to work — with checks and balances,” Johnson added.
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) agreed, citing reasons for why a permanent leader, rather than an acting one, in those positions is a good thing.
“An acting person is there, after all, for a limited period of time, and you do want to have as much continuity in leadership posts as possible,” Romney said.
Trump has admitted in past interviews that he likes the idea of having non-permanent agency heads. “It gives me more flexibility,” the president said in an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation” in February.
Yet experts warn that problems abound from having “acting” secretaries rather than permanent advisers. It becomes difficult, for instance, for such leaders to gain respect from their subordinates because they’re not viewed as their permanent bosses. And because the turnover rate in the administration is so high, it’s difficult for these acting leaders to get a solid footing in continuing their department’s important tasks.
“They might be amazing educators or amazing leaders in their own right, but they’re not set out for success,” said Max Stier, CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, per reporting from NPR. “They’re not going to be perceived as having complete and full authority by those that are around them.”