Donald Trump blaming Democrats for blocking his nominees ignores reality

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Republicans control the White House and Congress for the first time since 2006. The Democratic party has not had this little power over the Washington agenda for a decade. But in President Donald Trump's eyes, it's the opposition who is to blame for jobs going unfilled across the government.

There are 52 Republican senators who have confirmed 39 Trump appointees so far; another 63 people have been nominated, according to a Washington Post and Partnership for Public Service tracking of the president's nominees.

Trump's complaint ignores the simple truths of Senate rules. Confirmation of nominees in the Senate requires a simple majority. Democrats can extend debate on a nominee, as they did when they held the floor for 24 hours to protest Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. But that has happened rarely and that technique cannot stall a vote indefinitely, like a senator staging a filibuster of a bill with a speech.

What's more, it's the job of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to determine when votes come to the Senate floor. McConnell notably changed the rules to confirm Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch by a simple majority earlier this year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Trump's nominees have not been without controversy among members of his own party, either. Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie to confirm DeVos after two Republicans defected. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt was narrowly confirmed, with another Republican defection.

The analysis shows the president has submitted no nominee to the Senate for 79% of the federal government's "key positions." Only 7% of those positions — 559 high-level leadership jobs — have been confirmed by the Senate.

But those 39 confirmations represent 38% of all the nominees Trump has sent to Congress. Trump has submitted nominations for only 18% of the total positions.

As for the ambassadors Trump says Democrats are delaying, he has nominated 11 of 188 ambassadors, or 5%. Six of the 11 have been confirmed.