June 29, 2011

Senate Reforms Confirmation Process

By Jeremy Miller

Brace yourself. The Senate actually accomplished something today: legislation that significantly improves the efficiency of the confirmation process for executive nominees.  CREW has been part of a commission encouraging the Senate to streamline the process to allow non-controversial appointees to join the government and applauds the Senate for taking up and passing this legislation in such a timely fashion.

As passed, the “Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act” will eliminate the need for nearly 200 executive nominees for minor posts to be confirmed by the Senate as a whole, allowing them instead to be dealt with at the committee level.  Removing these positions from Senate confirmation will allow this and future administrations to get up and running more quickly and efficiently.  Importantly, the act creates a working group that will provide recommendations to further streamline the appointment and confirmation process within 90 days.

When President Washington took office in 1789, the Senate took up and confirmed 102 executive nominations in just two days.  By the time President Obama was inaugurated more than a thousand nominees required confirmation.  Nearly halfway through the term, 25 percent of confirmable positions remain vacant.  It’s no wonder one scholar describes the confirmation process as “nasty and brutish, without being short.”  As it is now, the confirmation process discourages some of the most talented from accepting nominations to serve their country.

This sorely needed reform will promote a more streamlined nomination process and encourage the most qualified people to serve the President and the nation.  It is nice to see the Senate get it right for a change. 


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