The Corner

Politics & Policy

Fixing Advice and Consent

All of the proposals that Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith make in this op-ed deserve consideration, but this one is especially attractive:

One sharp conflict between the executive and legislative branches needs an urgent fix and is ripe for a deal: the regulation of executive branch vacancies. Many presidential administrations — the Trump administration more aggressively than others — have circumvented the Senate confirmation process for top executive branch appointments by making unilateral temporary appointments.

These tactics exploited loopholes in federal vacancies law. Compounding this problem is that the number of Senate-confirmed executive branch positions has grown (it is now around 1,200), and the Senate in recent decades has become more aggressive in using holds and filibusters to block or delay confirmation. Congress should significantly reduce the number of executive positions requiring confirmation in exchange for substantially narrowed presidential discretion to make temporary appointments.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.

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