Mar 31 2011
WASHINGTON – In keeping with the bipartisan agreement reached earlier this year to reform the rules of the Senate, Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) cosponsored legislation – the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011 – yesterday to clear the backlog of stalled executive nominations by permanently exempting a range of positions from Senate confirmation.
Once enacted into law, the bill (S.679) would eliminate the need for the Senate to vote on roughly 200 executive nominations and 3,000 noncombat commissioned positions in the U.S. uniformed services. In all, the bill reduces the number of positions requiring full Senate confirmation by one-third. A separate Senate resolution (S.Res116), also introduced yesterday, would establish a streamlined confirmation process for an additional 250 part-time positions.
The measures are also co-sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, and by Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine).
"The logjam of appointments to fill key administration openings has too often left agencies without leadership that can be held accountable for performance, and leads to a situation I call 'executive branch Swiss cheese,'" said Sen. Carper. "I strongly believe that the confirmation process needs to be reformed in order for the Senate to better deliver on its responsibility to provide advice and consent. I am encouraged by the bipartisan support we now have to improve this aspect of government operation, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this legislation so we can ensure that the most qualified candidates are confirmed to positions in the executive branch without unnecessary delay or burden."
The passage of the bipartisan bill would complete the agreement struck by Senate leaders earlier this year to avert a standoff on the Senate floor over potential changes to the filibuster rule. That deal included a "gentlemen's agreement" that in exchange for an open amendment process, neither party would filibuster motions to proceed on bills brought to the Senate floor. Already, by virtue of that agreement, the Senate has completed work on major bills including an FAA Reauthorization and a patent reform measure. The Leaders' agreement also included a commitment to not reopen potential changes to the filibuster during either the rest of this session of Congress or in the next one.