The PoliBlog

The Collective
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
By Dr. Steven Taylor

Via the AP: House backs limits on attorney picks

Congress cleared legislation Tuesday that would curb President Bush’s power to appoint prosecutors indefinitely, resolving one controversy linked to the firing of federal prosecutors.

The 306-114 vote gave the House’s blessing to the Senate-passed bill, readying it for Bush’s expected signature. It will close a loophole that Democrats say could have permitted the White House to reward GOP loyalists with plum jobs as U.S. attorneys.

The measure would restore the process for temporarily replacing U.S. attorneys to what it was before Congress reauthorized the Patriot Act last year. Under the bill, the attorney general could appoint a temporary replacement who could serve for up to 120 days.

If in that time the Senate did not confirm a nominee permanently, the chief judge of the federal district would appoint a temporary replacement until the Senate acted.

It would be more accurate if the first sentence of the piece didn’t make this sound as if this is a curtailment of Bush specifically–that makes it sound too narrow and focused on one administration. In fact, all this does (or will do, if it passes the Senate) is return the process for appointing US Attorneys back to the way it was before it was altered in the reauthorization of the USA PATRIOT Act:

Congress renewed the Patriot Act last year with a new provision that allowed the president to appoint U.S. attorneys for an indefinite amount of time, thus avoiding Senate confirmation.

Indeed, I think that the new appointment powers in question is at the heart of the whole USA problem.

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