But S. 679 shifts a portion of this important responsibility away from Congress. It “solves” the problem by punting. Now, it’s one thing to do so where a minor office is concerned, but S. 679 punts on major offices that have significant authority.
The Senate’s role in giving advice and consent on presidential appointees shouldn’t be diminished lightly. The Senate should make its own rules to speed up its internal process for considering nominations.
Alexander Hamilton, in the Federalist papers, noted that senatorial review acts as “an excellent check upon a spirit of favoritism in the president, and … tend[s] greatly to prevent the appointment of unfit characters.” More recently, in the 1995 case Ryder v. United States, the Supreme Court affirmed the Appointments Clause of the Constitution “is a bulwark against one branch aggrandizing its power at the expense of another branch.”
That’s what is at stake. S. 679 addresses a real problem, and there’s no question that the approval process for presidential appointees needs to be sped up. It’s a shame that this particular legislative vehicle is such a clunker.