Over the last few weeks one of the most important narratives in Washington has been the confirmation process of President Trump’s cabinet. Approximately four weeks into the new Administration, over half of the President’s cabinet has been confirmed, including top positions known colloquially as “the big four,” which are the Secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense, as well as Attorney General.
Compared to previous Administrations, the confirmation of President’s Trumps nominees has been somewhat slower due to strong Democratic opposition to many of the candidates. Significant positions remain unfilled, including the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Commerce (DOC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and the Department of Labor (DOL). Notably, Andrew Puzder this week withdrew as President Trump's choice for Labor secretary.
What does this have to do with the apartment industry? The fact that these seats remain empty is important to our sector given the role these agencies play in overseeing many of the rules, regulations and budgets that impact the industry and overall economy. The speed with which a full cabinet is confirmed has an impact that is felt outside of Washington. Only once a cabinet position is filled does the respective secretary and White House move to appoint the assistant and deputy secretaries who are responsible for much of the day-to-day management and policy development within the agencies.
For instance, without a HUD Secretary confirmed and the second tier of lieutenants named and installed, no one is working on the HUD budget.
It should be noted that this is an immense process, with an incoming Administration needing to appoint around 4,000 new employees, of which about 1,000 require Senate approval. A lack of political appointees limits the points of access and communications within agencies and stalls the progress of new or reformed rules and regulations.
Finally, while it is clear that D.C. is experiencing a level of turmoil that exceeds that of recent years, it should be noted that this is the first full transition of one administration to another in almost a decade. Invariably, when these changeovers occur there is a sense of disorder and confusion. With President Trump being the first executive without any government experience and because of the aggressive approach that the Republican Congress has taken across issues such as tax reform, a regulatory rollback, healthcare reform and infrastructure development, a chaotic kickoff is not overly surprising.
As the cabinet confirmation process continues and key lieutenants begin their work in the agencies, NMHC/NAA will proactively engage with them to highlight the importance of the apartment industry and its impact on the nation’s economy.
If you are interested in learning more about the current status of the Trump Administration’s cabinet, we recommend this regularly updated New York Times tracker which keeps track of the confirmation process and gives helpful background on each of the nominees.