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Chipping Away at the Constitution

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Senate logoVia Hot Air, and The Heritage Foundation, Senator Chuck Schumer has proposed new legislation at the end of March which would remove around 200 high ranking positions from Senate oversight.  The bill, innocuously entitled the “Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011” would remove a host of positions from those requiring the “advice and consent” of the Senate.  The rational being that “it just takes too long” to appoint someone under the current system.

The Senators are right to note that it can take a very long time for some appointments to be processed.  As with most things in government, the process is labor-intensive and riddled with bureaucracy.  As long as the confirmation hearings may proceed, even more time is spent just getting to the point where the Senate can offer its opinion.  Candidates are checked and rechecked.  Paperwork is duplicated across agencies.  It’s clear that the system needs reform, but slashing the Senate’s role is the wrong decision.

Reform should come from the current bureaucracy, not shirking the Senate’s responsibility to the American people.  Although slashing the number of positions will speed up nominations for those individuals who no longer need confirmation, it will have little effect on the appointment times of those few individuals who still require the Senate’s “advice and consent.”  Appointees not exempted from the confirmation process will still have to suffer through the same arduos process as before; there will just be fewer of them.

Whatever its intentions, Senate Bill 679 represents only a major increase in the power of the Presidency.  It adds 200 names to the list of high-level bureaucrats that are essentially unaccountable to voters.  I can understand why liberals support this bill.  In their view, the President has been constrained by the Constitution.  But given an administration that has been repeatedly forced to withdraw nominees once their political past became widely known, it’s appalling that a bill which will only ease the growth of government was able to garner the support of seven Republicans including the majority leader.  Their names:

Alexander (TN)

Brown (MA)

Collins (ME)

Johanns (NE)

Kyl (AZ)

Lugar (IN)

McConnell (KY)

Read More in Democrats, GOP, Senate.