20 years after September 11, key national security posts remain empty


Not only did this not happen, but Senate deadlocks and partisan battles for candidates escalated. It now takes almost four months for a presidential candidate to be confirmed, compared to half that time in the Reagan era. More than 200 Biden candidates languish in “confirmation purgatory,” some of them for months, Mr Stier said.

The problems began in January, when, amid an upsurge in domestic terrorism, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri slowed down Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas’ confirmation saying he had questions on its position on immigration. At the time, Michael Chertoff, secretary of homeland security under the administration of George W. Bush, called the slow march “irresponsible and unreasonable”, saying it could “endanger the lives of Americans” .

This spring, Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott slowed down confirmation of three Department of Homeland Security candidates – Assistant Secretary, Under Secretary for Strategy, Policy and Plans, and General Counsel – seeking greater attention from the administration at the US border with Mexico. . The Under Secretary, John K. Tien, has been in office for less than two months, and Robert Silvers, the Under Secretary for Strategy, for less than a month.

In August, the Senate left for its month-long summer recess with nearly 30 State Department candidates in limbo. Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz is blocking their confirmation votes while demanding that Mr Biden impose sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. Among the candidates selected by Cruz is Brett M. Holmgren, who was appointed in March as Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research.

But it’s not just Republicans who are slowing the process.

Democrats complain that Liberal members of their party balk at candidates from the business world, making it harder to find suitable candidates. Moderate Democrats have also raised objections about some candidates.

On Thursday, Mr. Biden withdrew his appointment of David Chipman as head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after Senator Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, and Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, joined Republicans in opposing past statements by Mr. Chipman supporting some gun control.

Jamie S. Gorelick, who served on the 9/11 Commission, called the Senate’s approach “flawed” and “dangerous.” During the Clinton administration, Ms. Gorelick was the attorney general for the Pentagon, and later the deputy attorney general. Then, “it was a hand-to-hand fight that confirmed the individual assistant secretaries and the like,” she said.

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