Plum Book

You thought you are about to choose just one president?

I’ve read this today:

PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS AFFECTING LIFE ISSUES

As the expression goes, “personnel is policy.” To have his policies carried out, a President must have like-minded individuals in key positions. When we elect a President, then, we also elect an entire army of people appointed by the President who will affect policy at all levels of government, including deciding which private groups participate in federal programs or receive federal grants.

Every President fills over 7,000 positions in the White House, federal departments and agencies, and advisory panels. This figure does not include Judicial Branch appointments. A complete list of all positions filled by presidential appointment is available in the “Plum Book,” the latest edition of which is available at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/plumbook/2004/index.html.

The following list contains some of the key appointments a President makes that can affect the Culture of Life:

Supreme Court Justices (lifetime tenure)

President Ronald Reagan appointed three and promoted Justice Rehnquist to Chief Justice.

President George H.W. Bush appointed two.

President Bill Clinton appointed two.

President George W. Bush appointed two.

Federal Circuit Court of Appeals Judges (lifetime tenure)

Ronald Reagan appointed 83

George H.W. Bush 42

Bill Clinton 66

George W. Bush 57

Federal District Court Judges (lifetime tenure)

Ronald Reagan appointed 290

George H. W. Bush 148

Bill Clinton 305

George W. Bush 237.

White House

Chief of Staff

Counsel to the President

Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy

Director, Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

Special Assistants for Legislative Affairs (lobby Congress to implement proposals backed by White House; at least 11 of these Assistants)

Office of Policy Development (13 appointments)

Office of Management and Budget (sets the federal budget sent to Congress; at least 29 appointments here)

Justice Department

Attorney General (12 appointments to the Office of the Attorney General)

Office of the Solicitor General (the Administration’s counsel before the Supreme Court; 7 appointments)

Executive Office for United States Attorneys (includes over 100 U.S. Attorneys across the country who bring prosecutions for federal crimes, such as, perhaps, partial-birth abortion)

Office of the Associate Attorney General (includes numerous appointees, including those for the Civil Rights Division, which defends the rights of the disabled, among others)

Department of Health and Human Services

Secretary of Health and Human Services (20 appointments, such as Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, Special Assistant for Grants, and Counselor to the Secretary)

Office of the General Counsel (30 appointments)

Assistant Secretary for Public Health and Science (17 appointments, including Surgeon General)

Office of Global Health Affairs (5 appointments)

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legislation (10 appointments)

Office of the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families (34 appointments)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (14 appointments)
Among other things, keeps track of abortion statistics.

National Institutes of Health (20 appointments)

Food and Drug Administration (30 appointments)
Charged with testing, approving, and monitoring drugs for safety, such as RU-486.

State Department

Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration
$750 million budget and 140 employees; oversees international family planning programs.

Ambassador to the United Nations

Argues the American position with regard to international treaties, including those dealing with family planning and women’s rights.

U.S. Agency for International Development (over 50 appointments)

Administers U.S. foreign aid, including contracts for family planning assistance.

Chairman and 15 Members, President’s Council on Bioethics

Head of the Republican National Committee or Democratic National Committee

These committees recruit candidates to run for the House and Senate, thereby having a direct impact on the composition of Congress. They also determine which candidates will get campaign assistance from the party.

THE VETO-PROOF CONGRESS

If the House of Representatives and the Senate pass a bill, the measure is sent to the President for his signature. Under Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution, the President may then veto the legislation and return it to the body where it originated.

Congress may override a presidential veto if two-thirds of those members voting in each house approve the legislation. For example, if only 90 of the 100 Senators are present for a vote to override a veto, 60 votes (two-thirds of those present) would be necessary for the override attempt to be successful. According to the Congressional Research Service, between 1961 and 2005, there were 350 presidential vetoes, 33 of which (9.4 percent) were overridden.

Generally, a “veto proof” Congress is one where the party in opposition to the President controls at least 67 seats in the Senate and 290 in the House. Those numbers would apply, though, only if a vote went strictly along party lines. They would also only apply if every single member of Congress were present for the override vote.

With regard to pro-life/pro-abortion votes in the current House and Senate, there is no fixed number as support for pro-life positions depends on the specific issue involved.

Approximate pro-life and pro-abortion strength could be measured by votes in the most recent Congress.

In the Senate, a move to abandon the Mexico City Policy that bars foreign aid from going to groups that promote abortion was approved in 2007 on a 53-41 vote (six not voting). Thus, 56.4 percent of the Senators voting took a pro-abortion position. A switch of five votes would have made the move to eliminate the Mexico City Policy “veto proof” in the Senate. (NOTE: Of the six Senators who didn’t vote, four, Biden, Clinton, Obama, and Lincoln are pro-abort; thus even if everyone had voted, it still would have taken a switch of only five votes to have made the Senate “veto proof” over a pro-life president.)

In the House of Representatives, a 2007 vote to undermine the Mexico City Policy passed 217-205, with 13 not voting. This represented a 51.1 percent pro-abortion majority. Of those not voting, only three were pro-abortion, so one could say that there were 220 pro-abortion votes on this measure; that would mean a switch of 35 votes would be necessary to obtain a veto-proof pro-abortion majority.

In summary, even if a pro-life president were elected in November, the election of five more pro-abortion Senators and 35 more pro-abortion Congressmen would mean that pro-aborts would be left unchecked to pass and enact deadly, anti-life legislation.

THE FILIBUSTER

In the United States Senate, procedural rules allow for the prolonged delay of a pending vote. This extended delay is called a filibuster.

At one time, rules required that a Senator or Senators actually continue speaking to maintain a filibuster. Today, a Senator only need indicate that he is filibustering, although the Senate Majority Leader has the discretion to require a traditional filibuster, most famously portrayed in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” if he chooses.

A filibuster can hold up a vote on a bill for an indefinite period. This usually results in Senators reaching some sort of compromise on the bill or in the bill’s withdrawal from consideration. Sometimes, instead of a bill, presidential nominations to executive or judicial posts are filibustered.

Senate rules do permit filibusters to be ended by cloture votes. Invoking cloture, which ends debate and forces a vote on the bill under consideration, requires a three-fifths vote of all currently sworn Senators. Traditionally, then, a Senate is said to be “filibuster proof” if the majority party has at least 60 seats. (NOTE: Less than 60 votes would be required only if there were two or more vacancies in the Senate.)

Presently, pro-lifers are in the minority in the United States Senate. Fifty-seven Senators now favor ending the Mexico City Policy, which forbids foreign aid being given to groups that perform or promote abortion. If the Senate were to gain three more pro-abortion votes, pro-lifers would not be able to filibuster to prevent the end of the Mexico City Policy.

The filibuster could be a crucial pro-life tool in stopping pro-abortion legislation if both Congress and the presidency were controlled by pro-aborts. Most recently, the filibuster was used by pro-abortion forces to block the confirmation of President Bush’s nominees to federal courts.

The House of Representatives does not permit filibustering.

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