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Senate approval procedure should be improved

April 26, 2011
The Mining Journal

Both Democrat and Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate agree the system of approving presidential nominees for high government positions is broken. "We are losing good people because the process has become so onerous, so lengthy and so duplicative," explained Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, last week.

We hope senators are not so eager to reform the process that they give free passes to questionable executive branch nominees. If anything, new safeguards may be needed to keep presidents from outflanking Congress - as President Barack Obama did with his powerful corps of "czars."

One proposal is to end Senate reviews of about 200 positions in the executive branch. Both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., support the idea.

We agree the current system has not worked well for many years. It often holds up confirmations for many months, or even years.

Again, however, the process was put in place many years ago to avoid having unqualified, perhaps unethical people in charge of important government agencies. Not infrequently, the Senate prevents serious mistakes by the executive branch -as it did with a few of Obama's Cabinet nominees.

By all means, then, improve the process - but don't eliminate important safeguards.



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