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Help wanted: Trump administration still has hundreds of jobs to fill

Despite an ambitious agenda, the Trump administration is wrapping up its first 100 days with a long list of campaign promises to work on — and an even longer list of positions that remain empty.

Nearly three months into Trump's term, two of his nominees, Labor secretary nominee Alexander Acosta and Agriculture secretary nominee Sonny Perdue, have yet to be confirmed.

The delays are far longer than for any of the last six administrations.

Trump has complained bitterly about stonewalling by Democrats, who have withheld support for many of the president's Cabinet-level nominees. Half of Trump's picks were approved by slim majorities. Education Secretary Betsy Devos required a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence.

Democrats successfully torpedoed one of Trump's Cabinet choices before a vote, pressuring fast food executive Andrew Puzder to withdraw as a nominee for secretary of Labor.

And they have offered support for only three of the top 15 Cabinet positions, joining Republicans to approve Defense Secretary James Mattis, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and John Kelly to head the Department of Homeland Security. Most Senate Democrats have opposed the remaining nominations.

Trump has given no names for most slots

But Democrats in Congress can't stall nominations that haven't been made.

As of Thursday, the White House had yet to put forward the names of candidates for 475 of the 554 key positions that require Senate confirmation, according to the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group that advises incoming administrations.

The longest list of empty desks waiting for nominations is at the State Department, which has more than 100 vacancies, including the dozens of ambassadors appointed by the Obama administration who were fired by Trump on Inauguration Day.

In the meantime, Trump has quietly hired some 400 staffers — without Senate approval — to begin working throughout the executive branch and coordinating with the West Wing.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Here are the departments and agencies with the remaining unfilled jobs and the status of the nomination process, according to the Partnership for Public Service. Hover over a symbol for details.

Beyond the hundreds of positions that require Senate confirmation, thousands of political appointments that don't require congressional approval still aren't being filled.

Transitioning in just a few months to a new administration charged with overseeing 2.2 million federal employees is never easy. With no prior government experience and few Washington insiders on the transition team, the Trump administration is hitting a steep learning curve, according to Max Stier, founding president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service.

"No prior administration has done well at this," he said. "But Trump is even further behind."

The process has reportedly been slowed by Trump's close involvement in choosing nominees, and by turf wars between his inner circle and his Cabinet members.

Trump could decide not to fill appointments he's been given since he has promised to cut the fat out of government. But he may not be able to go as far as he wants since thousands of so-called career appointments are beyond his reach.

The full slate of top government jobs up for grabs is published every four years in the so-called Plum Book, named for the volume's purple cover. Of the more than 8,300 jobs listed in the latest edition, about half are "career appointments" over which the incoming administration has only limited discretion.

Hundreds more are part-time or honorary posts, including members of dozens of commissions, foundations and other federal bodies. Many of those job are unpaid.

In theory, the appointment process is intended to give a new president broad authority to reshape government policies to reflect the campaign promises that propelled them to the White House.

But even for positions that don't require Senate approval, Trump may find that his hiring discretion is more limited than he is accustomed to as the head of a privately held company.

One of Trump's key campaign pledges, for example, involves a major rollback of Obama-era regulations. Some of those changes can be made by executive order. But much of the government's regulatory infrastructure is embedded in dozens of independent, "alphabet" agencies, such as the CFTC, FCC, SEC and others.

Many of those agencies have bipartisan appointment requirements, and many current incumbents were named for terms that expire over the next four years.

"The president can't name everyone all at once, so it takes a while for these regulatory agencies to turn over to the control by the president's party," said Anne O'Connell, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied the presidential appointment process.