When asked if the vacancies made the situation more difficult, a DHS spokesperson told RCP that “there are officials serving in those roles in an acting capacity.” Halfway into his first 100 days then, Biden is relying on unconfirmed officials, not unlike his predecessor. Trump made headlines with his preference for acting secretaries. He often skipped the Senate confirmation process, raising constitutional questions and transparency concerns.
“Auditioning for a job may not be the best way to do that job,” wrote Carrie Cordero, a senior fellow at Center for a New American Security, and Joshua A. Geltzer, then a visiting professor of law at Georgetown University.
“It’s not just that acting secretaries have less ability to push back on the president; it’s also that they have less ability to lead their own organizations, both internally and across the government’s national security apparatus,” the pair wrote to commemorate day 79 of Patrick Shanahan’s tenure as Trump’s acting secretary of defense.
“While acting secretaries are generally able to exercise the technical legal authorities of their positions, they don’t have the same practical ability to … drive change within their organizations internally or raise issues for congressional attention. And that’s bad for U.S. national security,” the pair concluded.