Appointee Watch: Several Steps Forward, One Step Back

President Trump meets with his Cabinet in March. President Trump meets with his Cabinet in March. Andrew Harnik/AP

As President Trump continues to roll out nominations to key administration posts, he received a setback in the form of an appointee’s withdrawal.

Todd Ricketts, who was chosen last November to serve as deputy secretary in the Commerce Department, removed himself from consideration due to difficulty disentangling himself from his business interests, the Chicago Sun Times reported last week.

Ricketts’ divestment struggles stemmed from the fact that many of his holdings are family businesses, most notably the Chicago Cubs and TD Ameritrade.

Despite the withdrawal, the Trump administration has continued its slow pace toward staffing the federal government. On Monday night, the Senate voted 87-11 to confirm former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue as secretary of Agriculture.

Over the weekend, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus blamed Senate Democrats for the languid pace of nominations in an interview on Meet the Press. According to The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service, of 556 key positions requiring Senate confirmation, 63 people have been nominated or are awaiting formal nomination, 23 appointees have been confirmed, and 470 positions remain open.

Appointees named to agency jobs in recent days include:

Defense: Kari Bingen, principal deputy undersecretary for intelligence. Bingen is the policy adviser for the House Armed Services Committee, and she has advised Republican House leaders on defense policy and strategic force issues. She previously served as a senior space policy analyst for the Aerospace Corporation.

Defense: Robert Karem, assistant secretary for international security affairs. Karem served on Trump’s transition team as an adviser to CIA Director Mike Pompeo during his confirmation process. He served as a Middle East policy adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney and advised him on foreign policy at the American Enterprise Institute after he left office.

Education: Holly Luong Ham, assistant secretary for management. Ham is a management consultant at Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and has served on the board of directors for nonprofit Skills for Living Inc. She has also advised the Board of Financial Mentors of America.

Homeland Security: Randolph "Tex" Alles, director, U.S. Secret Service. Alles is currently acting deputy commissioner of Customs and Border Protection. He has previously led CBP's air and marine operations, and served for 35 years in the Marine Corps, attaining the rank of major general.

State: Scott Brown, ambassador to New Zealand. Brown is an attorney and served as a senator representing Massachusetts from 2010 until 2013. Since leaving office, Brown has been a commentator for Fox News.

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