Washington, DC — Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) led the Senate floor debate yesterday in support of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, a bill he authored with Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) to restore the Senate’s authority as an institution in the process of appointing important federal officials.
At the current time, a President fills 320 positions in the Executive Department which require Senate confirmation. Of those, 64 are currently held by acting officials. That is 20 percent. More important, of the 64 positions, 43 are held by officials who have held the job in an acting capacity for longer than is permitted under the Vacancies Act passed in 1868 and revised in 1988.
“Under the administration’s view, the entire set of confirmed officials in our government could resign the day after they were confirmed, and acting officials who have not received the advice and consent of the Senate could run the government indefinitely,” Thompson said. “That situation is completely at odds with the constitutional scheme the Framers created to protect individual liberty.”
The Senate voted 53-38 yesterday to continue debate and delay a final vote on the bill. Attached are Thompson’s remarks on the Senate floor.