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HOUSE PASSES BILL ELIMINATING SENATE APPROVAL OF PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS
Posted On: August 6th, 2012
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By a vote of 261-116, the House of Representatives passed a bill rewriting Article II of the Constitution and divesting the Senate of the power to accept or reject the appointment of many presidential nominees.
Last year, the Senate passed the measure by a vote of 79-20, so it now goes to the desk of President Obama for his signature.
“Important positions will be filled faster, government agencies will be more capable of offering valuable services to their constituents, and the overall confirmation process will be more efficient,” said Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Dozens of key management positions in the Departments of Agriculture, Defense, Commerce, and Homeland Security (including the treasurer of the United States, the deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, the director of the Office for Domestic Preparedness, and the assistant administrator of FEMA) will now be filled by presidential edict, without the need of the “advice and consent” of the Senate, a phrase specifically removed from the process in the text of the bill.
Although the House vote occurred on Tuesday, the Senate voted to surrender its constitutional check on the executive over a year ago on June 29, 2011.
Despite a last-minute attempt by some House leaders to put the measure to a voice vote, thus allowing members to vote in favor of the legislation without being listed on the record, a roll call vote was taken, and the name of every congressman who voted to unconstitutionally neuter the legislative branch is listed.
The process began last March when Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and 15 cosponsors, including Republicans Lamar Alexander (Tenn.); Scott Brown (Mass.); and Mitch McConnell (Ky.), introduced S. 679, the “Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act.” The measure struck from many current laws the “advice and consent” requirement for many executive branch appointments, giving the president unchecked power to fill key administration positions.
In a memo sent to Capitol Hill in advance of Tuesday’s vote in the House, Thomas McClusky of the Family Research Council reminded lawmakers, “The United States Constitution does not bestow kingly powers on the President to appoint the senior officers of the government with no process.”
Although McClusky’s reading of the Constitution is accurate, as of Tuesday it is no longer the law of the land. According to proponents of the measure, the bill benefitted from such strong bipartisan support (95 Republicans joined 166 Democrats voting in favor of passage) because its sole purpose is to relieve the backlog of unconfirmed appointees by eliminating the confirmation requirement for about 200 offices.
The process by which heads of executive branch departments are appointed and confirmed is set forth by Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The “Appointments Clause” provides that the president:
shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
Now, as soon as President Obama adds his signature to the bill, the checks and balances established by our Founding Fathers as a protection against tyranny will be eliminated, as well as the concept of enumerated powers.