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US Senate passes bill to ease presidential appointments

The US Senate [official website] passed the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act by 79-20 on Wednesday. The bill exempts 170 minor executive posts and 2,800 posts in the US Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Officer Corps [official websites] from requiring congressional confirmation. The bill also lessens the paperwork requirement for any nominee, streamlining the application forms. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) [official website], one of the sponsors of the bill, said [press release] "It isn't often this body voluntarily takes steps to curb its own power. But for the good of our democracy, the Senate must become more efficient. This reform bill will help to break the gridlock that has dominated the Senate, allowing both parties to focus on driving an agenda designed to create jobs and reduce the deficit." It is unknown when the US House of Representatives [official website] will vote on the bill or if it will pass.

This has not been the only effort to streamline governmental red tape. Last year, President Barack Obama signed the Plain Writing Act into law, forcing any governmental "letter, publication, form, notice, or instruction" to be written in "plain writing": "writing that is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience." It also charged the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) [official website] with keeping the public abreast of communication changes.

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