Trump administration run by numerous acting and temporary leaders
WASHINGTON – A temporary gig isn’t necessarily temporary in President Donald Trump’s administration.
Staff departures or internal shakeups have left more than a dozen federal departments or agencies operating with temporary, or “acting,” heads instead of a permanent leader. Two of the acting heads have been in their role for more than a year.
The latest addition to Trump’s band of temporary leaders is Pat Pizzella, whom Trump named as acting Labor Secretary on Friday after Alex Acosta announced his resignation.
Trump seems in no hurry to replace some of his “acting” leaders.
“I like acting,” he told reporters in January, saying the temporary positions give him more flexibility.
Here’s a closer look at the departments and agencies that currently are operating without a permanent leader:
White House Chief of Staff
Mick Mulvaney is officially acting chief of staff even though he has been in the job since January.
Trump named Pat Pizzella as acting secretary on Friday after Alex Acosta announced his resignation. Acosta stepped down amid the furor over a plea deal he made more than a decade ago with wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein, a sex offender charged with human trafficking girls as young as 14. Acosta was the top federal prosecutor for the Southern District of Florida at the time.
The department has been operating with an acting secretary since Jim Mattis stepped down at the end of December over differences with Trump. Patrick Shanahan served as acting secretary and was Trump’s pick to assume the position full time. But Shanahan withdrew from consideration in June after USA TODAY published a story that detailed an FBI examination of a violent domestic dispute in 2010 between Shanahan and his then-wife. The current acting secretary is Mark Esper.
Office of Management and Budget
Russell Vought became acting director of the agency after Mulvaney moved into his current position as White House acting chief of staff. Mulvaney still holds the title of director, but the White House refers to Vought as acting director.
Homeland Security secretary
Kevin K. McAleenan has been serving as acting secretary since April, when Kirstjen Nielsen resigned amid tensions with Trump and others in the White House who felt she hadn’t done enough to stem border crossings.
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Jonathan Cohen has been serving as acting ambassador since Nikki Haley’s departure at the end of December. Trump has nominated Kelly Craft, who currently is serving as U.S. ambassador to Canada, to fill the position, but she is awaiting confirmation by the Senate.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Pete T. Gaynor has been serving acting FEMA administrator since March 8, following the resignation of Brock Long amid questions over his use of government vehicles and resources to travel back to his North Carolina home. Gaynor had served as Long’s deputy.
Federal Aviation Administration
Dan Elwell has been serving as acting administrator since Michael Huerta’s five-year term ended on Jan. 6, 2018.
Food and Drug Administration
Norman Sharpless has been acting administrator since April 5, replacing Scott Gottlieb, who resigned after two years as head of the agency.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
The agency has been headed for the past two years by Loren Sweatt, who is acting assistant secretary of labor.
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Ann Marie Buerkle has been serving as acting chairwoman since Feb. 9, 2017.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli has been serving as acting director since June 10.
Customs and Border Protection
Mark Morgan, Trump’s former head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, officially became acting commissioner in July, replacing John Sanders, who resigned amid a public outcry over how migrant children have been treated at the border.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Matthew Albence became acting director in July following Morgan’s departure for his new role as acting commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol.
Office of Personnel Management
Margaret Weichert has been serving as acting director since October 2018.
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