With the Department of State Authorization Act of 2021, President Biden signed into law substantial constraints on ad hoc diplomatic appointments. Here’s an explainer on the new law’s background and key provisions.
Latest in Appointments
The hearing was polite, informative and moving—and nonetheless reflected the post-truth world in which Republican senators choose to live.
In a letter addressed to the Department of Defense Acting Inspector General Sean O’Donnell, Sens. Mark Warner and Jack Reed have requested that the acting inspector general “investigate the process for the recent selection” of the newly selected General Counsel to the National Security Agency (NSA).
A recent challenge to a set of directives issued by then-Principal Deputy Director of USCIS Ken Cuccinelli led a federal district judge to hold that Cuccinelli’s appointment violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act.
Summary: Appointment of USCIS Director Cuccinelli Violates Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Court Rules
Judge Randolph Moss of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found that Kenneth Cuccinelli’s appointment on an acting basis to lead U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had been unlawful.
Jeff Sessions’s Firing, Matthew Whitaker’s Rise and the Attorney General’s Role In the Mueller Investigation
The acting attorney general’s past statements about the Russia probe raise genuine concerns about his service overseeing it.
The nomination of Adam Klein as chairman of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB) is a welcome move by the president. Klein has excellent credentials for this position, having served as a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and most recently as a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. As readers of this site, to which he is a frequent contributor, know well, Klein is well situated to build upon the solid foundation created by previous PCLOB Chair David Medine.
A pernicious narrative persists today among fans and critics of executive power alike, which goes something like this: the real power in the U.S. government lies not with the elected President, not with his politically appointed cabinet officials, and not with members of Congress. That power rests instead in the hands of an organized network of nefarious, all-powerful, faceless bureaucrats. This stronghold of anonymous control, we are told, is the “Deep State,” the real power center in Washington.
There are many tools available to a president who seeks to scale back the scope and authority of an administrative agency. He can push to cut the agency's budget. He can embrace legal theories and litigation strategies that interpret the agency's statutory authority narrowly. He can try to appoint leadership that shares his reductionist agenda (and he can try to remove incumbent leaders who don't). And at the extreme, he might seek legislation formally shrinking the agency's authority or even abolishing the agency outright.