September 24, 1998
The Administration cannot support S. 2176 as reported by the Senate
Governmental Affairs Committee. S. 2176 would revise the process set forth
in the Vacancies Act for filling vacancies in positions that are subject to
Presidential appointment and Senate confirmation. If the bill is not
amended to address the Administration's concerns below and more fully
described in the attached Erskine Bowles 7/28/98 letter to the Senate, the
President's senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill.
S. 2176 threatens the ability of the Executive branch to fulfill its statutory and constitutional obligations. This threat arises, in particular, because the bill would: (1) too narrowly limit who can serve in an "acting" capacity; (2) provide no safety valve for instances in which the bill might interfere with critical duties pertaining to national security, criminal law enforcement, public health and safety, the stability of financial markets, and the oversight of financial institutions; and (3) provide insufficient time to fill positions, especially at the beginning of an Administration.