One Year Later

Obama’s 177 Unconfirmed Appointees

Where was the TSA chief on Christmas Day, when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to set off an incendiary device on a Detroit-bound airplane? Trick question: there isn't one. President Obama's nominee for the position, Erroll Southers, remains unconfirmed, barred from even working provisionally or sending deputies in his place. And he's not the only one: 177 White House appointees are still awaiting confirmation one year into Obama's first term—that's 107 more than the 70 unconfirmed appointees who were hanging around during Bush's first year. The culprit, unsurprisingly, is the Senate, whose members can place anonymous holds on appointees for any reason they choose (Kentucky Republican Jim Bunning held the nomination of the U.S. trade representative last year over a dispute the tobacco industry was having with Canada about clove cigarettes). And Southers? Still being blocked—by notorious hold-user, South Carolina Republican Jim DeMint—for saying he would review the TSA's policy of preventing collective bargaining.