Last year, the Senate passed a preposterous bill sponsored by Chuck Schumer, which would eliminate the Senate confirmation requirement for hundreds of executive appointees. S.679, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act, would eliminate the confirmation requirement for 200 presidential appointees. This bill would completely abrogate the safeguards against tyranny that were established in the “Appointments Clause” of the constitution. More than half of Senate Republicans supported it.
On Tuesday, the House inexplicably took up the bill through suspension, a fast-track procedure that is usually reserved for non-controversial bills. Not only is this bill controversial, it should never have been brought to the floor in a Republican-controlled House. Besides, who would think that such a radical proposal would win a 2/3ds vote threshold when Republicans enjoy a 50-seat majority?
Well, 98 Republicans caved, allowing the bill to pass 261-116.
Below the fold you will find more information about this bill, courtesy of former Attorney General Ed Meese and a coalition of conservative organizations.
MEMO FOR THE MOVEMENT
Senators Schumer & Alexander plan to reduce number of Presidential Appointments subject to Senate confirmation process undermines Advice & Consent role and weakens Congressional Oversight responsibility.
No More Czars for the President—It is a Bad Deal!
RE: A proposal by Senators Schumer & Alexander and others to eliminate the confirmation process for hundreds of political appointees and basically create more executive branch “CZARS.” Eliminating the confirmation process removes the only check the legislative branch has over many Presidential appointments.
ISSUE-in-BRIEF: Every President has approximately 400 senior level positions among the major cabinet departments & agencies to fill subject to confirmation by the United States Senate. The vast majority of these positions are confirmed by the Senate with little fanfare—but that is after a careful review of each nominee’s record by the Senate and in many cases a confirmation hearing. Here are seven reasons this Schumer proposal (S.679) is a bad deal for the American people:
1. The President already controls a little over 2700 political appointees not subject to senate confirmation.This would increase the number and expand the list to include positions with more responsibility and authority such as agency Chief Financial Officers, Assistant Secretaries for Congressional Affairs and Public Affairs, Bureau Directors at Department of Justice, Positions at the IMF and African Development Foundation and the Treasurer of the United States—to name just a few.
2. Aids in the Growth of Big Government. The single biggest reason there are more Presidential Appointees subject to Senate Confirmation then there were 50 years ago is because of the growth of government. When President Kennedy was elected there were no presidential appointees at the Departments of Education, Energy, Housing & Urban Development, Transportation, the EPA, OSHA or the Peace Institute because none of these bureaucracies existed.
3. Weakens the Appointments Clause of the Constitution. Advice & Consent is required by the Constitution—it should not be a discretionary matter left for Presidents of either party to determine. The Congress should not decide by law to relinquish the Senate role in filing a federal office and leave filling the office to the President alone. Key positions at almost every major cabinet department and agency would be affected, including Treasury, State, Defense, Commerce, Education, Energy, Labor, Homeland Security and Justice.
4. Reduces Opportunity for Congressional Oversight. The best time to fix a leaky roof is when the sun is shinning—eliminating the possibility of a confirmation hearing allows for less transparency in the process. Once an individual in appointed to their position the oversight role of congress is an after the fact event. The confirmation process is a crucial part of the congressional oversight process. Do the names Van Jones and Kevin Jennings ring a bell?
5. Takes Effect Immediately. Unlike changes to executive branch governance rules in the past, this proposal would be effective immediately rather than wait until 2013 and the next administration. In effect President Obama would be immediately free of the traditional Senate oversight of Presidential appointments and could appoint individuals at a moment’s notice.
6. Creates More Czars and Reduces Transparency. The problems of this administration with complying with the Freedom of Information Act are legendary and just this past February the House of Representatives voted to eliminate many of the “Czars” the President had been appointing to circumvent the accountability and scrutiny that comes with Senate confirmation.
7. Undermines Civility between the Branches of Government. The confirmation process ensures that individuals truly outside the constitutional mainstream are not appointed to influential positions in the executive branch without certain conditions placed on them by members of the Senate.