The Senate yesterday passed a bill (S.679) that would remove 169 high-ranking jobs from the list of about 1,200 presidential nominations that require Senate confirmation.  DoD jobs included in the bill were the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Networks and Information Integration (NII) and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.  The final legislation did not remove the confirmation requirement for the jobs of the Army, Navy, and Air Force comptrollers or the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs, as initially had been proposed by sponsors of the plan. 

In recent years, critics have described the Senate confirmation process as gridlocked; taking too much time, adversely affecting federal agency operations, and discouraging qualified people from the public service.  Critics of the process pointed out that the number of nominations requiring Senate confirmation had grown considerably over the past 50 years.  Earlier this year, Sen. Collins, ranking Republican of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said that over 1,200 presidential appointments currently require Senate conformation, compared to 286 in 1961 when John F. Kennedy became president. 

In a separate Resolution (S. Res. 116), the Senate approved an expedited process for consideration of over 250 positions, mostly involving members of boards and commissions.  Under this procedure, nominations for these positions would be considered “privileged” and sent directly to the Senate floor for a vote, bypassing any formal committee action.