POLITICS

Good news, bad news as Trump administration staffs up

President Trump got some good news Thursday regarding his efforts to fill job vacancies in his administration: Nearly 70 nominees received Senate approval in one fell swoop.

But the president also received some bad news: The Senate unanimously agreed to a move designed to block Trump from making any recess appointments while the Senate takes its summer break.

The good news means that former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas becomes the nation’s ambassador to NATO and New York Jets owner Woody Johnson becomes ambassador to Britain.

It also means Brendan Carr and Jessica Rosenworcel join the Federal Communications Commission, and Mark Andrew Green will lead the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Hill reported.

The bad news means Trump will have to wait until September if he plans to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions or special counsel Robert Mueller.

That’s because the Senate scheduled nine “pro forma” sessions, or short meetings, every three business days during its recess, the Hill reported.

The move is designed to keep the Senate technically open for business, so any new Trump personnel moves would have to get the Senate’s OK.

Many on Capitol Hill, including some Republicans, have been worried that Trump might try to replace Sessions, whom Trump has criticized for recusing himself from a federal investigation into the Trump administration’s dealings with Russians.

But sources recently told Fox News that new White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has assured Sessions that his job is safe.

The recusal led to the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, who has reportedly convened a grand jury in connection with the case, suggesting that subpoenas for evidence and testimony could soon follow.

The appointment of Mueller has sparked speculation that Trump may try to oust Mueller as well, although a Trump attorney has denied that.

Meanwhile, Trump also needs to appoint a new director for the Department of Homeland Security, after moving DHS boss John Kelly to the White House to become the president’s chief of staff. A new DHS leader normally requires Senate approval.

But Trump will be away from Washington anyway. He has announced plans to spend his vacation at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. 

And notable is that Callista Gingrich, wife of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has not yet been confirmed by the Senate to be ambassador to the Vatican.