Former White House, congressional leaders call for faster appointment process

A bipartisan group of former lawmakers and White House operatives say in a Washington Post op-ed on Wednesday that "the federal appointments process is broken and urgently needs substantial reform," specifically a bill in the Senate that would exempt more appointees from the confirmation process.

Former Sens. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Charles Robb, D-Va.; former Clinton White House Chief of Staff Thomas McLarty; and Clay Johnson, former White House director of personnel under George W. Bush, co-chair a 20-member bipartisan commission to reform the federal appointments process.

"As many as one-third of presidentially appointed positions, particularly at the subcabinet level, go unfilled at a given time, depriving many agencies of key officials," the group writes. "These vacancies are particularly problematic during the first year of an administration, when a president is trying to deliver on his campaign promises."

The four co-chairs are pushing for a shorter process -- but one that would avoid "diminishing the attention paid to nominees' qualifications." The bill they champion, co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., calls for about 200 non-policymaking, non-senior positions to no longer require Senate confirmation.

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