S. 679: To Remove “Advise and Consent” Function of Senate for Numerous Federal Appointments

This, introduced by Chuck Schumer on 30 March 2011, looks like a very, very bad idea, from the perspective of anyone who wants government to be smaller and less intrusive – and wants the executive to be policed better by the legislative branch. President Obama and his czars are the obvious counterargument to this bill. They make a powerful one.

More than 200 appointed positions would be excused from the advise-and-consent requirement by S. 679. Among them are the following:

The Agriculture Department’s Commodities Credit Board
Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service Administrator
The Chief Scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The Commerce Department’s Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information
The Defense Department’s Assistant Secretary for Networks and Information Integration
The Assistant Secretaries of each of the armed services for financial management
The Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Management
Education’s Commissioner of Education Statistics
All 7 of the Assistant Secretaries of Energy
The Department of Homeland Security’s Director of the Office of Domestic Preparedness
Homeland Security’s Assistant Administrator of FEMA for Grant Programs
The Department of the Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Management and Chief Financial Officer
The Treasurer of the United States
Director of the US Mint
The Governors and Alternate Governors of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (amending Section 3 of the Bretton Woods Agreements Act)
Governor and Alternate Governor of the Asian Development Bank (amending Section 3(a) of the Asian Development Bank Act)
Governor and Alternate Governor of the African Development Fund (amending Section 203(a) of the African Development Fund Act)
Managing Director of the Corporation for National and Community Service
The Office of Management and Budget’s Controller, Office of Federal Financial Management
Director of the Community Development Financial Institution Fund

That’s just a sample – and it represents an awful lot of policy, money-handling, and benefit-management, with your tax dollars. The Senate proposes to let the president appoint people to these positions without explicit prior oversight. The sheer possibilities for graft and bribery here are colossal – and that’s before we even get to the possibilities for covert policy implementation.

The Senate may be naïve enough to think presidents “should” simply be trusted to appoint honest brokers to these positions. With the Obama administration’s record of attempting one executive end-run after another around due-process law, such senatorial sentiment seems like willful stupidity. But Obama is not the first president to appoint questionable individuals to second-tier federal positions. There is a long history of problems or perceived problems in this area of executive privilege. And that’s the point of consensual government, checks and balances, and separation of powers.

The list in S. 679 includes all the legislative affairs directors for the federal departments, which would mean that a president’s appointees to these positions would be entirely loyal to him, not Congress. Add that to all the key positions in which money or statistics could be mishandled behind the scenes. (The Chief Scientist for NOAA could well be the most important appointment in the US federal government these days. The Commodity Credit Board and the Community Development Financial Institution Fund would be extremely efficient vote-buying vehicles in the wrong hands. The skullduggery that could result from unreviewed appointments to the IMF and the Asian and African development funds doesn’t bear thinking about.)

Now is not the time to express this kind of confidence in the executive. In fact, the case is the exact opposite. In terms of political administration, S. 679 would be a good head start on turning all of America into Chicago. Here are the Republicans who co-sponsored it with Chuck Schumer:

Alexander (TN)

Brown (MA)

Collins (ME)

Johanns (NE)

Kyl (AZ)

Lugar (IN)

McConnell (KY)


Lawlessness In America: Unions Go Beserk

The Green Bay Press Gazette:

Hundreds of off-duty police officers and deputies joined protests today against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill that would strip most collective bargaining powers from about 170,000 public employees.

Police, state troopers and firefighters are exempt from Walker’s proposal, but even as some marched on the downtown Capitol Square, hundreds of other officers from around the state provided security.

They came equipped with riot gear, including helmets and batons, they said, but didn’t expect trouble.

The Understory blog posts this:

From inside the Wisconsin State Capitol, RAN ally Ryan Harvey reports:

“Hundreds of cops have just marched into the Wisconsin state capitol building to protest the anti-Union bill, to massive applause. They now join up to 600 people who are inside.”

Ryan reported on his Facebook page earlier today:

“Police have just announced to the crowds inside the occupied State Capitol of Wisconsin: ‘We have been ordered by the legislature to kick you all out at 4:00 today. But we know what’s right from wrong. We will not be kicking anyone out, in fact, we will be sleeping here with you!’ Unreal.”

More from the Press Gazette:

Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Cpl. Matt Spence and Deputy Todd Traas stood guard on the Capitol’s northwest side directing pedestrians toward entrances to the building.

“We left at 3 a.m. on Thursday and have been (in Madison) ever since,” Traas said. Five Sheboygan County deputies were on duty Saturday.

They came equipped with riot gear, including helmets and batons, they said, but didn’t expect trouble.

“It’s been great,” Spence said.

Richard Daley, 62, of Green Bay, who retired from the Madison Police Department after 20 years on the force, came back to Madison on Saturday “supporting the fact that we all see this as union busting and wage suppression. This is a long-term, downward spiral of wages for working families.”

Wausau police Detective Cord Buckner, 42, stoically stood in the cold with an American flag wrapped around his face and holding a “Cops for Labor” sign as thousands of demonstrators marched around the Capitol.

“I‘m here to support all the unions’ rights,” he said. Saturday was his fourth day demonstrating in Madison since protests began, even though members of his union, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, won‘t be affected directly by Walker’s bill.

“The aggregate effect on public employees will affect police unions eventually,” he said.

More from the Union Terrorists: