What would it take to change the way NSC appointees are made?
January 31, 2017 6:39 AM   Subscribe

What would it take to change the way the NSC (United States) appointees are made or to formalize the rules and processes that the NSC must following?

So the NSC appointees are appointed by the President and are in charge of the list to target those designated as enemy combatants, which could include American citizens. I also read that Bannon is trying to get rid of any paper trail of NSC decisions and actions. What would it take to change the way appointees are made so that Congress could vet the appointees or the decisions could be vetted? This seems like there are no checks and balances on this.
posted by gt2 to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
There are no checks and balances. That's why governing through the Executive Office of the President is a bad idea. But presidents of both parties seem to love it.

Congress would have to pass a law amending the National Security Act of 1947 to classify the NSC as an executive department pursuant to Article II of the Constitution. Because both parties use the Executive Office of the President for their own political aims, I can't imagine there's any support whatsoever for such a bill.
posted by kevinbelt at 7:10 AM on January 31, 2017


So the NSC appointees are appointed by the President

No they're not.

What would it take to change the way appointees are made so that Congress could vet the appointees

They already do.

The NSC is governed by 50 U.S. Code § 3021, which defines the membership as:

(1) the President;
(2) the Vice President;
(3) the Secretary of State;
(4) the Secretary of Defense;
(5) the Secretary of Energy; and
(6) the Secretaries and Under Secretaries of other executive departments and of the military departments, when appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to serve at his pleasure.

Every single member aside from POTUS and VPOTUS is approved by Congress.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Director of the National Drug Control Policy, Director of National Intelligence, Special Advisor to the President of International religious Freedom, and the Coordinator for the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism may be invited to join the NSC at the discretion of the President. Again, that is all part of 50 U.S. Code § 3021.

Despite the inaccurate headlines, Bannon isn't joining the NSC, he's simply designated as an invited attendee to NSC meetings.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 7:25 AM on January 31, 2017 [4 favorites]


@NotMyselfRightNow: Where you say, "Bannon isn't joining the NSC, he's simply designated as an invited attendee to NSC meetings"... Is that a meaningful distinction?
posted by dondiego87 at 8:33 AM on January 31, 2017


Is that a meaningful distinction?

I haven't thought all of this through, but one distinction jumps out: The law says that POTUS chairs the NSC meetings, and he can designate another one of the defined members to chair a meeting in his absence. An invited attendee couldn't do that. It might sound like a trivial issue, but it could prevent some abuse, potential rubber-stamping, etc.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 9:14 AM on January 31, 2017


This lawfare blog post discusses this issue in some detail and concludes that Bannon's new roles are unprecedented and potentially dangerous, but does not seem to violate any law (though it probably should).

As to what it would take to change this -- I guess it would take a new law passed by the Congress or passing amendments to the National Security Act of 1947. With the president holding veto power, this practically means having a president sympathetic to this cause -or- having 2/3rds majority votes in house and senate to overcome a presidential veto.
posted by thewildgreen at 9:09 PM on January 31, 2017


You might be interested in this brand-new bill to codify who gets to be on the NSC, thanks to six senators, including both from California - Senator Harris and Senator Feinstein. (I can't find it on congress.gov yet, but the Senator Warner links to the text of the bill.)

So what's needed NOW is (a) for the Republican leadership to allow a vote on it, and (b) for enough senators to actually vote yes.

Note that Feinstein and her colleagues have also put forward a bill to nullify the Muslim ban and Senator Schumer moved to vote on the bill immediately (Monday night), but Republican Senator Tom Cotton denied the request, so they couldn't vote on it. If we want to see bills like this passed, our representatives - specifically, Republican leadership of both houses - need to know that we want a vote taken. The bills aren't going to do much good if they can't come up for an actual vote.
posted by kristi at 10:33 AM on February 3, 2017


From the NPR article:

"Trump reshuffles the National Security Council, elevating controversial chief strategist Steve Bannon to be a permanent member of the principals committee, giving him equal billing with other Cabinet-level officials. The director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are typically permanent members, will now only attend when pertinent issues are being discussed."

article
posted by gt2 at 7:11 AM on February 5, 2017


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