Matt HealeyMonday,21 January 2013

The Snap:

Congress is dysfunctional. Everyone agrees on that. One cause is the redistricting that drives our representatives to the extremes, and rewards hard line stances at the expense of compromise. That does not mean that reforms are not possible or should not be considered.

The Download:

The number of appointees that require Senate confirmation has grown from 280 to over 1400 over the past 50 years. The average time required to confirm an appointee has grown from 2.5 months to over 10 months. This is lunacy. There has been a 6 year wait to confirm a new head of the ATF. There are multiple vacancies in the federal judiciary because Congress will not approve judges. Presidents, from both the Democratic party and Evangelical christian party of god, have turned to recess appointments and other approaches in order to circumvent the approval process. This is not what a functioning Congress and government should do.

The problem is that the confirmation process has become so political, and the rules allow for so many ways for the minority party to scuttle an appointment: Anonymous holds, filibusters, blocking in committee, etc. This needs to change. Fortunately, there is a common sense solution: Require an up or down vote for all appointees within a specified number of days when Congress was in session. So, within 75 working days, a vote would have to be taken or the appointee would automatically be approved. This would have to be coupled with a requirement that the vote could not be filibustered, so that a minority could not filibuster an appointee and block confirmation — thus triggering the automatic approval. This would clear the backlog of vacancies in the federal government.

Hat Tips:

The New York Times, Washington Post, People For The American Way, Huffington Post, Image Credit: Flickr

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