Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and the Democrats continue to snub President Trump by slowing down Senate confirmation of his Cabinet appointments. Their underlying goal is to allow remaining Obama-appointed bureaucrats to do as much damage to the Trump administration as they can before leaving.
CNN reported last week that “Trump is noticeably behind the last three presidents when it comes to securing the confirmation of his Cabinet and other top appointments that require Senate approval.”
The Senate confirmed Governor Rick Perry on Thursday to lead the U.S. Department of Energy, leaving only former Governor Sonny Perdue and Alexander Acosta awaiting confirmation to lead the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Labor respectively.
But Schumer is only stalling top cabinet picks to further block the appointments of nearly 2,000 other political vacancies within the administration. CNN said as of February 23, Trump had 1,987 vacancies throughout his administration.
Many of these positions are empty. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said yesterday that much has happened at the Department of Justice in the three weeks he’s been in office, and he wished more of his staff had been confirmed by now. To be clear: Senate Democrats are keeping the Department of Justice from functioning at full capacity.
But other seats are currently filled by Obama appointees quietly working behind the scenes to sabotage Trump’s efforts by continuing their previous leader’s agenda while Schumer works to hamstring Trump’s presidency. These include deputies, managers, and political appointees who are meant to keep the government running while a new administration comes into power.
A clear example of this is occurring in the Department of Education, where bureaucrats are continuing what the Washington Post called Obama’s “ideological crusade” on for-profit colleges.
During President Obama’s term, his administration forced ITT Technical Institutes out of business after the school helped train American workers for half a century. This left about 40,000 students displaced and about 8,000 employees jobless, according to a September 20, 2016 Washington Post editorial.
And two months before the end of Obama’s term, his education department abruptly stripped authority from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, which is one of the oldest national accreditors of academic institutions in the country.
The Obama administration took this action without giving the ACICS a standard 12-month grace period to address the Department of Education’s complaints and imposed intentionally unattainable deadlines on private colleges and work training programs accredited through ACICS.
Secretary Betsy DeVos is now leading the Department of Education, but Obama-appointed lawyers in the department are still enforcing these unreachable mandates for career training institutions.
One such deadline requires 690 privately-owned schools to prove they have applications to other accreditors by March 12. Not only is this forcing private schools to leave ACICS before its appeal is adjudicated, but not meeting this deadline will mean these schools will lose the ability to receive federal Title IV funding, which is bureaucrat-speak for federal student aid.
This means more than 600,000 students at 725 schools will have to either quickly find other educational programs and restart their degrees or certificates; pay off their federal loans with their own money; or find a private lender to accept their debt. All of these options are terrible and punish hard-working people. And the last resort is having taxpayers cover the cost of forgiving the now-useless loans.
The Obama administration made a mission out of demonizing private for-profit colleges and universities, but many of these students are single parents or people who were failed by college-focused federal education policies.
Pulling the rug out from under organizations like ACICS is a blatant, misguided effort by Obama administration bureaucrats who are focused on destroying this industry.
Many of these students are working adults who are trying to improve their lives for the sake of their children. Not only will these Obama-led efforts hurt Americans, but without these colleges and career training programs, our ability to fill the jobs President Trump is working to bring to this county will be severely hindered.
Senate Republicans should make every effort to break the Democrat blockade, so President Trump can swiftly fill these positions. And then the president’s cabinet members should take a close look at Obama staffers who have “burrowed in” by moving from appointed positions to career jobs.
The Washington Times reported in November that there were “69 Obama political appointees who moved into career jobs from 2010 to 2015, and 17 of them didn’t receive the required approval from the Office of Personnel Management.”
The bold changes President Trump is bringing to the federal system will require complete loyalty within the ranks of the executive branch. Republicans in the Congress and the President’s cabinet should work doubly hard to ensure the administration is at top working order as soon as possible.
Newt Gingrich is a Fox News contributor. A Republican, he was speaker of the United States House of Representatives from 1995 to 1999. Follow him on Twitter @NewtGingrich. His latest book is "Understanding Trump."