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Port: Congratulations to Mac Schneider, but we need to pick up the pace with these appointments

If our presidents, and our Congress, can't even be trusted to do something as routine as make timely appointments to offices like U.S. attorney, how in the world could we ever expect them to tackle the far more complex, if similarly routine, business of budgeting?

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U.S. attorney nominee Mac Schendier, pictured here during his time serving as a state senator from Grand Forks in North Dakota's Legislature.
File Photo
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MINOT, N.D. — I was happy to hear that Mac Schneider, a former leader of the Democratic-NPL caucus in the state Legislature, and a long-time lawyer with a strong reputation, was finally nominated to fill the position as North Dakota's U.S. attorney .

That I might disagree with Schneider's approach to that job at times is irrelevant. Joe Biden won the election in 2020, and he gets to appoint who he likes.

Elections have consequences.

That Schneider is qualified to do the job, and has earned our confidence that he'll do it ethically and responsibly, is all that really matters.

What ought to concern us all is how long this process is taking. Though it was an open secret in North Dakota political circles that Schneider was a shoo-in for the nomination, the Biden administration just finally got around to making it official yesterday, 603 days after the president was inaugurated.

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And keep in mind that Schneider doesn't even have the job yet. He's only been nominated. That nomination will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and nobody really knows when that might happen.

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The timeline is in the thrall of the petty politics and intrigues of that dysfunctional legislative chamber.

Already more than 41% of President Joe Biden's term in office has gone by, and we're just now beginning the confirmation process for our state's U.S. attorney.

That's not acceptable.

Sadly, it's a trend that's getting worse.

Drew Wrigley, Schneider's predecessor in that office, wasn't nominated until the 571st day of President Donald Trump's term in office, and he wasn't sworn into office until the 817th day. More than half, or about 56%, of Trump's term in office went by before North Dakota had an appointed U.S. attorney.

Tim Purdon, Wrigley's predecessor, was nominated 280 days into President Barack Obama's first term, and sworn in after 562 days, about 38% of the way through.

Purdon was nominated, confirmed, and sworn in faster than Trump or Biden could even name a person for the job.

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That has to change.

Some could argue that the job isn't exactly sitting empty during these delays. Personnel in the office step up to act as the interim U.S. attorney when there is no appointee to fill the role.

But they're not appointees. Our system of government calls for an appointee. The president should make one, promptly, and barring clear evidence that a given nominee is unfit for the office, the Senate ought to swiftly confirm.

That's not happening, and it's a symptom of a larger problem in our federal government. It has become so addled by pettiness and and personal ambition that it can't even do the basics.

If our presidents, and our Congress, can't even be trusted to do something as routine as make timely appointments to offices like U.S. attorney, how in the world could we ever expect them to tackle the far more complex business of budgeting?

And to be clear, they aren't doing that either .

Our government is broken. The lackadaisical approach to U.S. attorney appointments, from both presidents and Congress, is just another sign of it.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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