President Donald J. Trump is not shy with superlatives but, as he noted Friday, his short time in office has already notched a record most White House occupants would rather not set.
More than a month in, nearly half of Trump’s Cabinet nominees have yet to be confirmed by the Senate, the longest run for any modern president.
“It’s just delay, delay, delay – it’s really sad,” Trump told a cheering crowd at a Conservative Political Action Committee meeting Friday. “I love setting records. But I hate having a Cabinet meeting and I see all these empty seats. I said, ‘Democrats, please, approve our cabinet.'”
For their part, Democrats have set records for party-line votes opposing Trump’s choices, arguing that some of his nominees have not been fully vetted and others aren’t qualified for the jobs they’re filling.
“This is not even close to a normal Cabinet,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said earlier this month. “I have never seen a Cabinet this full of bankers and billionaires, folks with massive conflicts of interest and such little experience or expertise in the areas they will oversee.”
So far, Democrats have torpedoed one of Trump’s Cabinet choices before a vote, pressuring fast food executive Andrew Puzder to withdrawn as a nominee for secretary of Labor.
And they have offered support for only three of the top 15 Cabinet positions, joining Republicans to approve Defense Secretary James Mattis, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and John Kelley to head the Department of Homeland Security. Senate Democrats have opposed the other six nominations that have been approved so far.
Here’s how Trump’s Cabinet confirmation timeline compares with the first terms of the last six presidents, according to Senate records.
The delays in Trump’s Cabinet confirmation comes despite a GOP Senate majority and a rules change that no longer requires a 60-vote approval margin.
When former President Barack Obama first took office in 2009, he also enjoyed a solid Democratic majority in the Senate, but that didn’t mean his Cabinet nominees sailed smoothly through confirmation.
Obama’s first nominee for Commerce, former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, withdrew under pressure from a federal investigation into his campaign contributions. A second choice for the job, former Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, withdrew nine days after his nomination, citing “irresolvable conflicts” with the White House.
That announcement came just days after former Sen. Tom Daschle withdrew from consideration as secretary of Health and Human Services after disclosures that he had failed to pay some of his taxes on time.
George W. Bush‘s Cabinet picks had a relatively smooth confirmation, despite a late start in the nomination process forced by the contested election of 2000. After weeks of legal battles, the Supreme Court didn’t rule until on Dec. 12, 2000 that Bush had won.
Despite a 50-50 split in the Senate, his full Cabinet was in place two weeks after his inauguration.
The Bush administration’s only Cabinet stumble was the unsuccessful nomination of a former Reagan administration official, Linda Chavez, who withdrew from consideration to head the Labor Department after it was disclosed that she hired an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper.
With a 57-43 Senate Democratic majority when he first took office in Jan, 1993, Bill Clinton’s Cabinet was almost entirely in place the day after his inauguration.
The lone vacancy followed the withdrawal of Washington lawyer Zoe Baird as Clinton’s choice to head the Justice Department after she disclosed that she had failed to pay Social Security taxes for household employees.
The confirmation process was one of the smoothest in decades, with all but one nominee confirmed by unanimous consent or voice vote. And the lone roll call approved Attorney General Janet Reno by a vote of 98-0.
George H.W. Bush, facing opposition from a Democratic Senate majority, sidestepped some of the potential for delay by holding over three members of Reagan’s Cabinet.
Though four of his 14 top Cabinet posts were still empty a month into his term, all but one of his nominees enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support.
But Democrats balked at approving former Texas Sen. John Tower to lead the Defense Department.
Ronald Reagan’s full Cabinet was also ready to get to work shortly after he took office, thanks to a GOP Senate 53-46 majority.
His nominees also enjoyed largely bipartisan support, and the last of his Cabinet was confirmed within two weeks.
That kind of bipartisan support for also helped Jimmy Carter win swift approval for his Cabinet nominees, all of whom were confirmed by his first week on the job.
All but three nominations were confirmed with a voice vote.