By Jessica Huseman
Ever heard of the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011? You probably haven’t, but President Obama stuck his name on it last week, giving himself the ability to appoint almost 170 more executive branch positions and 3,000 Officer Corps positions without the approval of the Senate. Altogether, the law reduces the number of positions requiring full Senate confirmation by one-third.
But just hold on a hot second – if that law was signed by Obama, doesn’t that mean it had to pass through Congress first? Yes. Yes it does. The Senate approved the bill, 79-20, last June and the House approved it 261-116, last month. Republicans and Democrats – in the midst of all of this mess – mutually agreed to give Obama more power.
I’m getting whiplash from doing double takes.
But why didn’t we hear about this? Well, probably because it wasn’t controversial, but also because (as says Politico) it got lost in the kerfuffle over Paul Ryan being named Mitt Romney’s running mate.
In case you were wondering – Paul Ryan voted in favor of the bill.
According to Joe Lieberman’s site – Lieberman (I-Conn) was one of the sponsors of the bill – it was meant to “clear the backlog of stalled executive nominations by permanently exempting a range of positions from Senate confirmation.”
The bill was also sponsored by Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). That’s right – TWO Republicans sponsored a bill giving Obama more power.
(I mean, technically this power will mostly be wielded by whoever wins in November, but right now Obama is up about 3.4 percent over Romney.)
A full list of the appointees are on Lieberman’s site, but the most interesting include a ton of top public affairs posts, the director for the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the director of the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor and the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Relatively small beans, sure, but I’m still shocked anything making Congress more efficient and Obama more powerful wouldn’t have kicked up some dirt.
“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.”
Feel free to gape your mouth open in awe.