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Trump administration is using this shady loophole to circumvent Senate confirmations — and it could violate federal law

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The White House is aggressively seeking to expand the authority of the executive branch of government by circumventing Senate confirmation of “acting” appointees, The Intercept reported.

The Federal Vacancies Reform Act allows the president to install acting leadership where there is a vacancy, but caps the maximum time served at 210 days. With Trump having now served over 300 days, an increasing number non-confirmed appointees have exceed the 210 day cap.

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One such case shows how the administration dropped “acting” from an appointee title, but in name only.

“Dan Simmons, an expat of the American Legislative Exchange Council, has been presiding over the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The Trump administration has not named a nominee for the Senate-confirmed position, and Simmons hit his 210-day time limit on November 16. The Department of Energy subsequently removed Simmons’s title of acting director, while stating he would still “serve in a leadership capacity” as a principal deputy assistant secretary,” The Intercept explained. “Simmons signed off on a proposal to overhaul energy efficiency standards the next day.”

The administration has made similar moves at the Office of Nuclear Energy and at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

The 210 day limit is not the only violation of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act being used to circumvent senate approval.

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At the Department of Interior, Secretary Ryan Zinke named Brian Steed acting director of the Bureau of Land Management. This violated another section of FVRA, which mandates deputy directors must work at an agency for 90 days before being made acting director. Steed has only worked at BLM since October, previously he served as chief of staff to Congressman Chris Stewart (R-UT).

The Intercept concluded that “the Trump administration has relied on the FVRA to evade the Senate confirmation process, and, in most cases, has failed to nominate anyone to the directorship posts. These functionaries, installed across the government, are able to carry out duties unilaterally.”

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There is ongoing debate as to what is motivating the White House to violate the law, rather than quickly get confirmation from the Republican senate.

“It’s not that Trump would have difficulty getting his nominees through the Senate. Since 2013, the Senate confirms executive branch appointees with a majority vote. With Republicans in control, not a single Democratic vote is required for Trump to get his appointees confirmed. But floor time in the Senate is scarce, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is using it instead to ram through federal judges at a record-setting pace,” The Intercept noted. “It will be those judges who hear any challenge to the legitimacy of the no-longer-just-acting directors scattered throughout the Trump administration.”

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Why was Jeffrey Epstein buying size 5 women’s panties — while in jail?

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The Miami Herald has another bombshell report on Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail while waiting to stand trial on federal sex crimes charges.

"A decade ago, during a brief stint in Palm Beach County Jail, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein made an odd purchase at the facility’s store: two pairs of small women’s panties, size 5," the Herald reported Saturday night.

The newspaper noted, "the panties raise questions about why a childless male inmate, accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, would be allowed to buy female undergarments so small that they wouldn’t fit an average-sized adult woman."

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White nationalist Republican ridiculed after only 2 people show up for his town hall meeting

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Embattled Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suffered further humiliation on Saturday when only two people showed up for his town hall meeting with Iowa constituents.

King, who was stripped of all committee assignments for his white nationalism, was been an embarrassment for Republicans with his constant racism and misogyny.

A photo of the town hall meeting was posted on Twitter by Reuters photo editor Corinne Perkins.

https://twitter.com/corinne_perkins/status/1162806565109473280

Rep. King was quickly mocked in the comments.

Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/sedespres/status/1162811223186006018

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2020 Election

Democrats could flip the Texas state house in 2020 — and reshape the national map

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Blue Texas? Democrats have long dreamt of winning Texas’s 38 electoral votes in the presidential election. That may still be a long shot, but a recent “Texodus” from Congress has given new talk to a political transformation across the Lone Star State that could have massive ramifications down the ballot and for decades to come.

This article was originally posted at Salon.

Four of the state’s GOP members of Congress have announced their retirements in recent weeks, an unusual torrent of departures signaling that a storm is coming. And evidence shows that it’s not just hitting Texas’s federal delegation. It’s coming to Austin, too.

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