Yes, There Sure Are a Lot of Vacancies in the Executive Branch

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Whose fault is it that there are so many vacancies in the executive branch? The New York Times investigates:

The White House faults an increasingly partisan confirmation process in the Senate and what officials say are over-the-top demands for information about every corner of a nominee’s life. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew received 444 questions from senators before his confirmation, more than the seven previous Treasury nominees combined, according to data compiled by the White House. Gina McCarthy, Mr. Obama’s nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, got 1,000 questions from the Senate, White House officials said.

….But members of Congress and a number of agency officials say the bottleneck is at the White House, where nominees remain unannounced as the legal and personnel offices conduct time-consuming background checks aimed at discovering the slightest potential problem that could hold up a confirmation. People who have gone through the vetting in Mr. Obama’s White House describe a grueling process, lasting weeks or months, in which lawyers and political operatives search for anything that might hint at scandal.

Frankly, I’m surprised there’s anyone left in the entire country who’s willing to go through the modern vetting process just to be an assistant deputy secretary of something or other. The whole process has gotten way, way out of hand.

But what’s the answer? Certainly part of the answer is to cut way back on the number of these appointments that require Senate approval. Another part of the answer is some kind of truce about what counts as disqualifying in a nominee. Beyond that, I’m not sure. But the article is worth reading, since this has long been a sore spot for a lot of liberals.

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