Congress Agrees To Expand Presidential Power
August 21, 2012 by Sam Rolley
Political polarization is supposedly at an all-time high as Americans enjoy a tedious election-season that the populace is told pits big government, socialist values that would impress the likes of Karl Marx against small government, pro-business ideals that should satisfy any conservative.
So polarized is the political landscape that legislators are unable to produce a budget for the United States because of sheer gridlock, the conversation about social issues has denigrated into screaming on both sides and it is political heresy to come to agreement with your political opponent no matter what heights of idiocy you must reach in proving your dissident.
But lawmakers recently and oddly came to agreement that the power of the President should be met with less political opposition, at least when it comes to making certain appointments.
As Americans have been busy trying to make sense of the upcoming Presidential election, Congress quietly agreed on a matter of importance: making sure that, without Senate approval and without retribution, 170 people can be pointed to powerful positions by whoever assumes the Presidency.
The Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 — sponsored by Senators Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) — eliminates the need to obtain Senate confirmation for about 170 executive branch posts. The act was passed by the Senate last summer, met House approval last month and was signed into law by President Barack Obama earlier this month.
The legislation’s sponsors claim it simply reduces the amount of time it takes for a newly elected President to make low-level appointments. But the list includes top public-policy positions within the following Departments: Defense, State, Labor, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs. A full list can be viewed here.
Lieberman said of the legislation:
This bipartisan legislation represents the Senate at its best. A problem was identified, and Democrats and Republicans worked together to craft a solution. Now, future Administrations will be able to get their teams in place more quickly, and the Senate will be able focus its time and energy on the most important Executive Branch appointments. In no way does this bill erode the Senate’s role of “advice and consent.” Rather, it strengthens the Senate’s power by freeing us up to concentrate on nominees who will actually shape national policy.
Despite Lieberman’s assertion that many of these positions do little in the way of shaping public policy, Americans concerned about the growing power of the Presidency might argue that lessening the vetting process is just another step in the direction of complete top-down political control in the Nation.