Letter: Senators questioning candidates not ‘whining’


To the editor,

A response to the following letter written by Ray Kunz of Beacon Falls on Jan. 20, 2017:

“Why are the Senate ‘whiners’ allowed to question candidates for Trump’s presidential cabinet positions? This is the same as having prison inmates voting on the hiring of the jailers.

Something seems inappropriate here. The Senate certainly does have a ‘check and balance’ involvement but that does not include passing judgement on who the President chooses as advisers.”

Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution of the United States affirms: “he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States.”

The Cabinet members who fill the positions you are referring to are “Officers of the United States,” meaning this clause applies to them. Those positions are: The secretaries of state, treasury, defense, interior, agriculture, commerce, labor, health and human services, housing and urban development, transportation, energy, education, veterans affairs, and homeland security and the attorney general.

The analogy of having “prison inmates voting on the hiring of the jailers.” Does not seem to be a logical comparison in this case. Senators are not in any way controlled by the members of the Cabinet. The function of the Senators is to vote on legislation; the function of Cabinet members is to carry out the laws passed by the Senate and House of Representatives. In fact, it is the duty of the Executive Branch (the President and the staff of his choosing) to carry out the laws passed by the Senate, which would make the Senators more the “jailers” and the Cabinet members more the “prison inmates.”

The President does have advisers, but they are not approved by the Senate. The positions that do require the Senate’s approval do not only serve as advisers, but also control large parts of the Executive Branch of government, involving many people and large sums of tax money. Because they deal with citizens directly and spend tax money, they are under scrutiny from the people themselves through their Senators. If the appointment of these positions was left to the President alone, he or she could appoint people purely based on how many favors the President owed them or how much money they gave to his or her campaign. Being a Trump supporter, as evidenced by your description of Senators as “whiners,” you of all people should appreciate that there is a system to try to prevent people who are clearly incompetent from getting Cabinet positions just because of politics and money.

The Senators working to approve good Cabinet members are not “whining” or just trying to anger Trump out of frustration after his victory. They are simply trying to make sure that the right people are occupying some of the most important positions in our government.

Avery Tolboe

Beacon Falls