President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence’s cabinet includes 15 executive department secretaries, many of whom have been fired or resigned and have been filled by an acting secretary.
There are quite a few current acting cabinet officials in the Trump administration, such as Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, who took over after Gen. Jim Mattis resigned. Former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen abruptly resigned leaving former CBP commissioner and acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan at the helm. Acting Secretary of Interior David Bernhardt came into office after former Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke (R.) resigned due to personal scandal.
There have also been many new appointments and confirmations made by the president and the U.S. Senate to fill some of these top positions in order to eliminate the “acting” role, especially after many scandals. After former Congressman and EPA Secretary Scott Pruitt resigned amid scandals, Trump replaced him with now Secretary Andrew Wheeler. After a scandal with regards to former Congressman and Secretary of Health and Human Services unraveled, Tom Price resigned from his post and the president appointed and U.S Senate confirmed Alex Azar to take the top spot. Yet another scandal broke out and made headlines when former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin took a wasteful and unethical ten day official trip over the summer. President Trump asked for his resignation and filled the role with now Secretary Robert Wilkie.
While there may seem to be many department shakeups every so often in this administration, there have been eight cabinet secretaries who have been in the president’s cabinet from the very beginning. For example, Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson, Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos have all been confirmed by the Senate and have held their positions since early 2017.
When Trump was addressed by Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation at the beginning of the year on his administration’s many department shakeups within 2 years of his presidency, he responded, “I like acting because I can move so quickly. It gives me more flexibility.” Rather than seeing it as a lack of stability in his administration, the president foresees his acting secretaries as trusted advisers and has eliminated wasting time with Senate confirmation should the acting secretary not hold up their end of the agreement by producing quality work for the American people.
Marissa Martinez is a political contributor for Accuracy in Media. She is the former political director to Massachusetts Governor’s re-election campaign, alumna of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and political consultant to national PACs. Follow her stories, @MarissaAlisa.