In recent years, the job of United States Senator has evidently been added to the list of 'jobs that Americans won't do.' Harry Reid's Senate has categorically shirked its core constitutional responsibility by refusing to pass a budget for over two years. Concurrently, the Senate has been preoccupied with feckless, unconstitutional legislation that fails to deal with any of the paramount public policy problems facing the nation.
Today, Chuck Schumer, with the help of Mitch McConnell and Lamar Alexander, plans to vitiate one of the Senate's few remaining constitutional duties; advising and consenting to presidential appointees. The Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act (S.679), which was never reported out of a committee, would eliminate the confirmation requirement for 200 presidential appointees. This bill would completely abrogate the safeguards against tyranny that were established in the "Appointments Clause" of the constitution. [The Heritage Foundation has a useful primer on the bill.]
The bill has seven Republican co-sponsors: Lamar Alexander, Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Mike Johanns, Jon Kyl, Richard Lugar, and Mitch McConnell.
One would think that without the inconvenient burden of dealing with the budget process, the Senate would have plenty of time to execute its 'advise and consent' duties. They are claiming that the confirmation process is too cumbersome and time-consuming, and as such, is precluding other more important legislation. The reality is just the opposite. Their abdication of their core responsibilities has left them with nothing other than executive confirmations on their plate. Senator Marco Rubio succinctly observes the priorities of the Senate in a piece for the Daily Caller today:
Meanwhile, in the five months I have been in the Senate, Democratic leaders have focused on a reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration, a patent bill, a bill to increase spending on the Small Business Administration and a plan to increase spending on the Economic Development Administration, a relic of the Great Society that funnels debt-financed cash to states and localities (never mind that the president’s own Fiscal Commission recommended eliminating it entirely).
The Senate has taken just 91 roll call votes, many on non-controversial nominations, and a third of our time has been spent in “quorum calls,” literally doing nothing. No one should be under any illusion about the desire of leaders in the Senate to confront our sagging economy and looming debt crisis.
Now, they have the moxie to complain that the confirmation process is distracting them from more important legislation!
Undoubtedly, there is a need to expedite the presidential appointee process. However, ceding more power to an administration that is overzealous to impose policy by administrative fiat, is not the way to go. Congress has slowly abjured its power to the executive branch by writing open-ended legislation, granting federal agencies wide latitude to promulgate destruction over our economy. Obama has already used radical executive appointees for the purpose of consolidating power in the executive branch. Why would any Republican sign on to such a dangerous expansion of executive power? Whom do they think Obama will appoint to these positions if there is no oversight?
Here's a novel idea for streamlining the confirmation process of presidential appointees: shrink the size of government so there will be no need for most of these jobs. It's high time for Congress to halt its self-immolation, and reign in the executive department behemoth.
The Senate is scheduled to hold the first cloture vote on S.679 later this evening or on Wednesday, following the expected failure on passage of the inane Economic Development Revitalization Act. Call your senators and ask them if they plan to outsource their jobs to Obama. Tell them to keep the presidential appointment process in the hands of the elected branch of government and vote no on S.679.