Senate-confirmed, agency appointees play a vital role in American government, but the proliferation of these positions also presents a problem peculiar to the American system: long-term vacancies, or periods without a confirmed appointee serving in the position. Continue reading
For those keeping score: Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) was one of the Republican Yeas on the Appointments Act (S.679).
One of the most intriguing and unexpected aspects of the July 31 House passage of S.679, the Presidential Appointment Act, is the roughly 100 Republican Yes votes. I gather that, without the votes to win passage, supporters of the legislation like Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) turned a few no’s to yes’s. Who are the Republican yes votes? Another project I don’t have time to tackle, but perhaps someone else is inspired to tack a look at the roll call (which, by the way, is here) – and I’m certainly open to whatever wisdom exists out there.
As we at Bureauphile were shocked to learn earlier in the week, S. 679 successfully passed a House vote on July 31, 2012. We have done some very preliminary analysis of the impact of S. 679, which we presented at the “Appointee Politics and the Implications for Government Effectiveness” Workshop in Alexandria, VA on May 4th to some of the Senate committee staff responsible for writing the bill.
Yesterday, the House passed S.679, a bill that reforms the presidential appointments process and reduces the number of presidential appointments subject to Senate confirmation. Everything I know about Congress is wrong!
S.679 was a topic of interest, but a keen sense of skepticism among participants in May’s Appointees Workshop, an event sponsored by the Virginia Tech Center for Public Administration and Policy and the Indiana University School and Public and Environmental Affairs. I doubt any of the experts gathered to examine the role of appointees in American government would have predicted the bill’s passage this year. We will review elements of the new law in coming weeks, but for now a simple question: What happened to gridlock?
Morning Edition’s sympathetic profile of Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz this morning is the type of story IG advocates envision. The battle between House Republicans and Attorney General Eric Holder over access to documents related to the so-called “Fast and Furious” scandal look bad, the story begins:
But one man has already been sifting through secret emails about the operation known as Fast and Furious. He’s Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s new watchdog.
Last week’s unprecedented House floor vote holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt looks first of all like escalating institutional conflict at the confluence of divided government and partisan polarization. My research on congressional investigations with David Parker, like our “Divided We Quarrel” (2009) – offers this sort of reading. But the 21 Democrats who defected, 21 voting to hold Holder civil and 17 voting to hold Holder in criminal contempt highlights a different story about the power of interest groups like the National Rifle Association in Congress. Slate’s Explainer asks, “Why is the NRA so Powerful?”
I mentioned the other day that charges of contempt against Attorney General Eric Holder followed a familiar storyline – episodes during the Reagan and Clinton years were resolved without a vote on the House floor. In a depressing sign of the times, however, yesterday the House of Representatives added a new chapter to the recent history of partisan institutional conflict. Attorney General Holder became the first sitting cabinet member to be held in contempt of Congress. At the same time, this article in Fortune set of a lot of rethinking about the facts in the underlying case. In a perfect twist, Representative Issa’s principled stand on the House floor weren’t even the day’s top news, having been overshadowed by the announcement only a short distance away of the Supreme Court’s health care decision.
POGO, the Project On Government Oversight, has a long interest in the many number of Inspectors General positions which are currently unfilled. Their project examines who IG’s are, who appoints them, and they maintain an IG database. Here is a new video about the project: