Thompson Says Justice Department “In Flagrant Violation of Law”

Washington, DC–At oversight hearings today on the implementation of the Vacancies Act Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) said that the Department of Justice “is in flagrant violation of the law” with regard to its non-observance of the Vacancies Act.

“What we have here,” Thompson said, “is an entire government that could be filled with temporary appointments which could last for an entire Administration. This has become a very important Constitutional matter with a number of unintended consequences. The case last year of the recess appointment of Bill Lann Lee is just the latest example of the overriding need to reform and tighten up the appointment process.

“What we’re talking about today is where people who are running the government in positions which should be filled with the advice and consent of the Senate are never approved by the Senate. Of the 320 Executive Department positions, 64 are held by temporary officials. Of the 64, 43 have served longer than 120 days before any nomination was submitted to the Congress.

“The current situation cries out for oversight, and it now demands action. Senators Byrd and Thurmond, two of our witnesses today, have introduced legislaton recently which would address this long-standing problem. This Committee will examine these proposals and see what can be done to enhance compliance with the law. I look forward to working with both of the sponsors to determine the very best solutions to this serious breach of compliance with the Vacancies Act and with the advise and consent requirements of the Constitution.”