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Key administration posts remain vacant 6 months into Biden presidency

Nearly six months since his presidency began, Joe Biden's administration has yet to fill key leadership positions in a number of prominent agencies, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: Many of the empty positions are important to advancing the administration's agenda in areas such as the pandemic, voting rights, climate change and cracking down on corporations.

  • Temporary agency leaders aren't as empowered to pursue an aggressive policy agenda as permanent heads, and are more likely to pursue short-term, rather than long-term, goals.
  • “Acting people don’t bring that authority and can’t undertake long-term projects in the way that full-time confirmed people can," Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, told the Post.

The big picture: The reasons for the vacancies vary and the Biden administration's slow pace isn't necessarily unique.

  • The Biden administration is filling empty positions faster than the Trump administration did, but slower than Obama, according to the Post.
  • “We are ahead of several prior administrations in terms of nominations sent to the Senate for confirmation,” White House spokesman Chris Meagher told the Post.

State of play: The delays are hitting positions that are key in advancing the administration's long-term goals.

  • The United States is hoping to ease out of the pandemic even as the FDA commissioner position, which oversees the approval of drugs and vaccines, remains vacant, the Post reports.
  • The Office of Management and Budget is being manned by an acting director, despite the efforts to use budget reconciliation to pass the president's "human infrastructure" plan.
  • Even as Biden cracks down on corporations, the antitrust position at the Justice Department, as well as the assistant attorney general for antitrust, both remain vacant.
  • A number of other key regulatory roles remain open, including a seat on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, the chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and the chair and two members of the Council on Environmental Quality, per the Post.
  • Biden also hasn't nominated a solicitor general, even as the federal government hopes to confront GOP-led efforts to curb voting access.

Go deeper: Biden vacancies delay Big Tech reckoning

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