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Public Statements

Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. CHAFFETZ. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

The need for reforms in the Federal appointments process is not a new topic. There is little dispute that the current nominations process has grown too cumbersome and complicated, in some cases, discouraging qualified individuals from seeking leadership positions. On average in recent administrations, only 35 of the 100 most needed leadership roles were filled within the first 100 days of the new administration, and 200 days into a new administration, only 50 percent of key national security officials are actually in place.

Nine special commissions have called for fixing the broken Presidential appointments process by starting the Presidential transition and personnel planning earlier, streamlining background investigations, and reducing the number of appointments requiring Senate confirmation.

S. 679 provides a commonsense solution that preserves the important role of the Senate in confirming key nominees but unburdens the process by relieving the advice and consent requirement for less critical positions. The bill is based on a bipartisan Senate working group commissioned to improve the nominations process, which was led by Senators Alexander and Schumer.

S. 679 eliminates the requirement for Senate confirmation for a number of executive branch positions, many of which are: one, below the assistant secretary level and report to a Senate-confirmed individual; two, do not make policy; or three, are members of part-time advisory boards or commissions.

S. 679 also establishes an executive branch working group to study and report on streamlining the paperwork required for nominations.

In addition, S. 679 requires a fixed 5-year term for the Director of the Census Bureau to coincide with the planning and operational phases of the census. The Director of the Census Bureau remains subject to Senate confirmation.

S. 679 provides a mechanism to allow the Senate to focus its efforts on installing qualified leaders to key positions in order to meet the many challenges facing our Nation.

At this time, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. CHAFFETZ. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I will be, under the general leave, inserting a couple of letters. One is from Frank Carlucci, former Secretary of Defense under President Reagan, who wrote us a letter saying:

Leaving positions vacant indefinitely as appointees wait to be confirmed is not smart management and is frankly a threat to our national security.

Also in support of this piece of legislation, a noted conservative Senator, former Senator Fred Thompson, took a position on this and said:

I believe that this will result in an increasingly narrow pool of potential public servants who are more likely to be wealthy and already live in the Washington, D.C. area.

That is if we don't pass this piece of legislation. He went on to say:

In 1960, President Kennedy had 286 positions to fill in the ranks of Secretary, deputy secretary, under secretary, Assistant Secretary, and administrator; and by the end of the Clinton administration, there were 914 positions with these titles.

As was noted by the gentleman from Texas, there is an argument to say a lot of these positions shouldn't even be in the Federal Government. But nevertheless, under the Constitution, the Constitution says under article II, section 2, the appointments clause--I'll cut right to the phrase I would like to refer to which is:

Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper.

Therefore, as I read the Constitution, we have a duty and a responsibility to review this and look at this. So here you have a situation where 79 Senators in a very bipartisan way came together after nine different commissions and looking at things and decided to trim it back a little bit. There will still be over a thousand Senate-confirmed positions. But if we want proper oversight, if we want to go through this process in a swift and timely manner, if we want oversight, let's focus on what's most important.

What's most important probably doesn't require Senate confirmation for the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. How about the administrator of St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, or the National Council on Disability, or the Office of Navaho and Hopi Relocation? These are positions that, while are important to our Nation, and some would argue are vital, probably don't necessarily rise to the level that requires Senate confirmation. These should not just be used as political tools. This Nation has business at hand, and we should focus on what's important.

Again, there are still more than a thousand appointments that will require Senate confirmation. But let's listen to our colleagues in the Senate. Seventy-nine of them came here and said we think this is good. There have been nine different commissions looking at this. I think it's a valid recommendation. It still allows for the advice and consent within the Senate. It is a duty under the Constitution to do this.

I would encourage adoption of this. I think it is common sense. It is what our friends in the Senate are asking us to do with 79 Senators coming together to urge the adoption of this.

And with that, I yield back the balance of my time.


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