Senate bill would cap number of executive branch appointees

While many legislators make political hay by criticizing the growing number of political appointees in the federal government, not many actually try to do anything about it. But two lawmakers who have attempted a fix in the past have announced they are giving it another go.

Sens. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have reintroduced legislation they say would cut spending and shrink bureaucracy by reducing the number of executive branch appointees to a maximum of 2,000 individuals. Constitutionally mandated positions would not be affected by the bill.

The number of political appointees has risen steadily over the years, increasing by about 28 percent since 1980, the senators said in a statement dated March 8. Although the bill would impose a cap, the legislation would leave it up to the executive branch to determine which positions would have to go. The measure would give the executive branch one year to comply with the cap.

The Congressional Budget Office has previously estimated that eliminating the extra political appointees could save $872 million over 10 years, the senators said. The measure is the latest addition to Feingold’s Control Spending Now Act, an effort to slash about $500 billion from the deficit by ending specific policies and programs.

“Unnecessary bureaucratic positions not only waste taxpayer dollars but also make government less effective and less responsive to the people it represents,” Feingold said. “In the face of record deficits, this bill offers a good way to save while improving the way government works."

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