The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing on 21 March 2012 to consider a legislative proposal that would empower the Executive Branch to reorganize the federal government. S. 2129 would expand the White House’s authority to create, abolish, or consolidate executive department and agencies. Reorganization would only be allowed, however, if the Director of the Office of Management and Budget determines that the proposal will or is likely to result in a decrease in the number of agencies or result in cost savings.
Thus far, Congress has not worked aggressively to give this authority to the President, as the bill has only two sponsors. At the hearing, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) added his support for the legislation. The bill’s primary sponsor, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), indicated that he plans on passing the bill before he retires from the Senate at the end of the year.
President Obama is seeking this authority to reorganize the Department of Commerce. The President wants to realign several Commerce bureaus that focus on small businesses, as well as to move the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration from Commerce to the Department of the Interior. President Obama does not currently have the authority to restructure the Executive Branch.
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