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Roger Zakheim, director of the Reagan Institute, discusses what the vacancies at the Defense Department mean for the agency, and how it could impact budget negotiations.

Many high-level jobs at the Department of Defense are being performed in an acting capacity. With the president yet to nominate a new Secretary of Defense, and the budget process beginning soon, how are the acting roles keeping up? Roger Zakheim, director of the Reagan Institute, says that a new Secretary needs to be confirmed by the Senate as soon as possible.


“Most administrations have this after a couple of years. That’s not unusual. What is unusual here is the length of time. In this case, Acting Secretary Shanahan finds himself in the acting role. That creates a lot of challenges, be it budget discussions with Congress or dealing with allies for security challenges, which Acting Secretary Shanahan is dealing with in Venezuela or Iran today.” Zakheim said. “The substantive concern is, when you are making deals, when you are trying to get something in place long term, the person you are negotiating with wants to know you are going to be there… Shanahan, until he is nominated, really hangs in the balance. They don’t know if the person they’re discussing with across the table is going to be there tomorrow.”

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