Thompson Schedules Hearings on Vacancies Act Implementation

Washington, DC–Senate Governmental Affairs Chairman Fred Thompson (R-TN) scheduled an oversight hearing on the Vacancies Act for Wednesday, March 18, at 10 am., in the Committee’s Hearing Room at 342 Dirksen Building.

“Twenty percent of Executive Branch positions requiring Senate confirmation,” Thompson said, “are now filled with acting appointees, most of whom have served longer than the law allows. There is a bipartisan concern that the Vacancies Act is being violated.”

At the current time, a President fills 320 positions in the Executive Departments which require Senate confirmation. Of those, 64 currently are 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 apparently permitted under the Vacancies Act.

One serious concern is the consequence of the failure to comply with the Act. If a President can select anyone for a vacancy and allow them to serve indefinitely as an acting official, then the Senate’s advise and consent functions have been set aside.

The confirmed witness list includes:

o Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV)

o Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC)

o Joseph Onek Deputy Associate General Counsel,Department of Justice

o Joan Hollenbach Associate General Counsel

General Accounting Office

o Paul Light Director, Public Policy Program,Pew Charitable Trusts

o Morton Rosenberg Congressional Research Service

o Michael Gerhardt Professor, Case Western Reserve Law School