The bill reduces the number of presidential appointments that require the consent of the Senate and establishes within the executive branch a Working Group on Streamlining Paperwork for Executive Nominations.
Individuals nominated to senior executive offices suffer slow and detailed background investigations and mounds of duplicative paperwork before a President sends their nominations to the Senate.
After nomination, many nominees suffer time-consuming inaction or time-consuming and excruciating action as the Senate proceeds (or does not) with consideration of the nomination. The sponsors of S. 679 have identified a valid problem, but proposed the wrong solution. Congress should not enact S. 679.
When the delegates of the states gathered in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 and wrote the Constitution, they distributed the powers of the federal government among two Houses of Congress, a President, and a judiciary, and required in many cases that two of them work together to exercise a particular constitutional power. That separation of powers protects the liberties of the American people by preventing any one officer of the government from aggregating too much power.
The Framers of the Constitution did not give the President the kingly power to appoint the senior officers of the government by himself. Instead, they allowed the President to name an individual for a senior office, but then required the President to obtain the Senate’s consent before appointing the individual to office. Thus, they required the cooperation of the President and the Senate to put someone in high office.
The counter-argument, courtesy of Senator Lamar Alexander:
This bipartisan legislation which I have cosponsored would eliminate the need for the Senate to vote on roughly 210 full and part-time junior-level executive nominations. These positions are part-time advisory board or commission positions, or full-time positions that are not involved in policy making or already report to multiple senior-level Senate-confirmed officials.
This legislation would free up the Senate so that it can focus on our country’s most urgent needs of reducing spending and debt, rather than on confirming hundreds of junior positions in a president’s administration, like the public-relations officer of a minor department. The Senate will still continue to confirm about a thousand presidential nominees – nearly four times as many appointees as President Kennedy had – and I will continue to support legislative efforts to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans.
Over to you.