Our government works well only if good people are in the right positions. But what happens if many of the top positions in government are left empty?
Such is the case in America. After the Obama administration’s first 100 days in office, only 14 percent of Senate-confirmed positions had been filled. Even at the end of 2010, nearly two years into President Obama’s term, 22 percent of the more than 500 government positions dependent upon Senate confirmation were still vacant or filled only by “acting” officials.
When a nomination comes to the Senate floor, Senators can vote in favor of the nomination, against the nomination, without recommendation, or choose to do nothing. Inaction is often the path of political expediency. But political expediency often leaves American citizens without a fully staffed and functioning government.
Former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray is a case in point. In July, President Obama nominated Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new agency designed to increase oversight of the much-maligned financial sector. Although Cordray’s nomination was approved by the Senate Banking Committee in early October, it has not been scheduled for a vote in the full Senate. Without a confirmed director, the bureau is powerless to protect consumers from abuses by the same non-bank financial institutions that left America vulnerable to its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
President Obama is not the first president who has faced confirmation problems -- during the Bush administration, America went without a confirmed national security team for six months. Presidents have struggled to staff the government for as long as politicians have put political games ahead of the country’s best interests. For real change to occur, America must commit to clear and efficient voting processes and not continue to be sidelined by petty delays.
To ensure Americans receive the government they pay for, No Labels proposes that all presidential nominations that require Senate confirmation receive an up or down confirmation vote within 90 days of submission. This will ensure government positions will be filled with qualified people. And if the Senate votes against a candidate, presidents can move on and find someone else to fill the role in a timely manner.
An up or down vote within 90 days of nomination requires all Senate members to be accountable for voting yes or no, maximizes efficiency, and guarantees relatively immediate progress.
It’s time to strengthen the democratic process and ensure our leaders can’t put political gain ahead of country any longer.
What do you think? Please leave a comment below and join the conversation about No Labels’ proposed congressional rules reforms.
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