The Vacancies Act: Time has run out on many Biden appointees The Vacancies Act says many temporary government appointees cannot remain in their posts after the 300th day of a president's first year in office.

Time has run out on some Biden administration appointees

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/1056240650/1056291981" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Today is the 300th day that President Biden has been in office. But this is more than just some nice round number. It signals that any person who is temporarily filling most high-level jobs in the administration needs to be replaced unless a nominee for the post has been sent to the Senate.

NPR's Brian Naylor reports.

BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: The Vacancies Act was passed in 1998 as a way to make sure that presidents did not try to skirt the traditional Senate role to advise and consent on the president's nominees. And the law does have consequences. Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, says former President Trump's acting director of the Bureau of Land Management overstayed his temporary tenure.

MAX STIER: Some of his decisions were viewed to hold no legal effect and had to be, in essence, ignored.

NAYLOR: There are now so many government jobs, some 1,200, requiring Senate confirmation that it's become really hard for presidents to get all their positions filled on time. Kathryn Dunn Tenpas of the Brookings Institution says no other country works like this.

KATHRYN DUNN TENPAS: We are very peculiar in the sense that every four or every eight years, we basically lop off the top of the pyramid, and then it takes several months to get leadership in place to go forward.

NAYLOR: Positions where someone has been nominated by the Biden administration are not affected by the Vacancies Act. But the Partnership for Public Service counts some 169 positions where there is no nominee. Still, Tenpas says the wheels of government will continue to turn.

TENPAS: I think it - you know, it largely will go undetected. But I think, generally speaking, it's not good to have temporary leadership at the top of these executive departments.

NAYLOR: The White House says each government agency does have appropriately designated senior leaders who can perform the duties of the position until someone is nominated and confirmed.

Brian Naylor, NPR News.

Copyright © 2021 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.