The U.S. Senate is soon set to vote on S.679 - Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011. What are they hoping to streamline, you ask? It would appear their own work load. As tempted as we are, as conservatives, to have them do less work and not more, a very basic requirement of the U.S. Senate is the advise and consent process towards Presidential nominees.
Introduced on March 30, 2011, the bill in summation:
Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 - Exempts certain presidential appointments to cabinet-level agencies, independent commissions, and boards in the executive branch from the requirement of Senate confirmation (advice and consent). Establishes the Working Group on Streamlining Paperwork for Executive Nominations to: (1) study the streamlining of paperwork required for executive nominations, and (2) conduct a review of the impact of background investigation requirements on the appointments process.
The bill was introduced by Chuck Schumer (D-NY), so as a conservative that sent up a red flag at the beginning. He had, however, 15 co-sponsors, including Republican leadership.
As The Heritage Foundation points out, the process does indeed need reform but this is not it. 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.
The Senate should look inward and streamline its internal procedures for considering all nominations. The proper solution also is the faster one, as the Senate can accomplish the solution by acting on its own in the exercise of its power to make Senate rules, while S. 679 requires approval by both Houses of Congress.
The separation of powers is vital to our Republic. The Executive branch has enough power as it is. Look at all the czars President Obama has appointed and in doing so has created an unprecedented level of bureaucracy that was not held to Senate confirmation standards and is not held accountable to the American people. Our President is not a King. This trend established at Obama levels is not a healthy way for our country and its Presidents to go, regardless of which party holds the White House.
The sponsors of the legislation have identified some appropriate objectives with respect to the nominations process: simplify executive branch nominations paperwork, facilitate sharing of the information with appropriate officials in the executive branch, tailor the requirements of background investigations to the nature of the offices involved in the appointment, and increase the efficiency of, and thereby accelerate, each element of the process. The President should direct his subordinates to work together to plan how to accomplish these objectives, execute the plan, and report regularly to him on progress until they achieve all the objectives. The Congress, however, should not mandate by S. 679 that the President do so, for the manner by which a President decides whom to nominate to federal office is beyond the power of Congress to regulate.
The authors of S. 679 have correctly identified serious problems in the process by which the President nominates individuals for federal office and the process by which the Senate considers such nominations. The President and the Senate, respectively, should exercise their existing, ample authority to correct their respective processes. Enactment of S. 679 is not a proper solution to the problems.