Amendment Proposal – 4th revision – Executive Branch
I have tried to explain my rationale for the abolition of the presidency to a variety of folks on different blogs, but have been met with nearly unanimous opposition to the idea. Apparently, this idea is too radical for even most Americans who are trying to reform the system. Therefore, instead of that concept, I will offer some less radical suggestions on amending Article II of our Constitution. I hope this will meet with more open-minded consideration.
Below I have copied the original text of Article II of the Constitution (italicized) and will add my comments and amendment ideas in bold.
Section 1. The executive power shall be vested in several Executive Departments, coordinated by a Cabinet, whose presiding officer shall be the President of the United States of America. The various chief officials of the executive branch shall hold office during the term of four years, and be elected or appointed as follows:
The President and a Vice President shall be elected separately in a national election, according to the principles of instant runoff voting.
The various departments of the executive shall be administered by a Secretary, a Deputy Secretary and an Undersecretary. The President, the Vice President, the Senate President Pro Tempore, and the Senate Minority Leader shall each nominate not less than one nor more than two candidates for each of these offices. Between the fifth and ninth days after the inauguration of the President and Vice President, the candidates shall be interviewed by the Committee of the House of Representatives responsible for oversight of the relevant executive department. The House Committees shall narrow each field to three candidates, and nominate these to the relevant Senate Committees. The Senate Committees shall nominate a single candidate from these for each position, and submit them to a confirmation vote of the entire Senate.
No person except a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States, at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that office or any of the chief executive offices described in this article who shall not have attained to the age of thirty five years, and been fourteen Years a resident within the United States.
In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
In the case of removal, resignation, death or other inability to carry out the duties of office of any other chief officer of the executive branch, Secretaries shall be replaced by Deputy Secretaries, who shall be replaced by Undersecretaries, and each department shall designate at least five other positions in that department in specific order to succeed these officers, and upon approval by the relevant House and Senate Committees, these orders of succession shall become law.
These officers of the executive shall, at stated times, receive for their services, compensation which shall neither be increased nor diminished during their term, and shall not receive within that period any other emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Before entering on the execution of office, they shall each take the following oath or affirmation:–”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of [title of office], and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
A. The Military
Whenever there exists no declaration of war by Congress, the command of the military shall be by a Defense Command Committee consisting of the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, and Undersecretary of the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President, Vice President, and chairs and ranking minority members of the Armed Forces Committees of both the House and Senate. In deliberations of this Committee, the Secretary of Defense shall have two votes, and the President shall have three.
Upon declaration of war by Congress, or upon invasion by a foreign power, it may designate one member of this Committee to be Commander-In-Chief. Until such appointment is made, the President shall serve as Commander-In-Chief. At any time during such war, the Congress may appoint any other member of this Committee to replace the Commander-In-Chief.
Unless there is a declaration of war, the military shall remain primarily a reserve force, with only enough regular full-time personnel to maintain a defense of the national borders, airspace, and territorial waters against foreign invasion.
B. Executive Departments
Operation of the executive departments shall be by joint decisions of the Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Undersecretary of each. In these deliberations, the Secretary shall have two votes, and in case of a tie, the President shall cast the deciding vote.
All decisions that involve the coordination or cooperation of more than one of the executive departments shall be made by the Cabinet. The Cabinet shall consist of the President, Vice President and the Secretaries of the various executive departments. In sessions of the Cabinet, the President shall preside and shall cast two votes.
The Cabinet may exercise authority over the operations of a department only by a 3/4 vote.
C. Pardons and Reprieves
The President, the Attorney General, and the Party Leaders in each House of Congress of all Parties represented in each House, shall have the power to appoint one member each to the Federal Board of Pardons and Paroles, which shall be the sole authority to grant pardons and reprieves in matters of federal law.
The Secretary of the Department of State shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of 2/3 of the Foreign Affairs Committees of both the House and the Senate, to make treaties.
Repeal or withdrawal from treaties and other international agreements may be recommended by the President, the Secretary of State, the State Department, or the Cabinet, but must be approved by both houses of Congress.
E. Other Appointments
The President, Vice President, President Pro Tempore and Senate Minority Leader shall each nominate not more than two persons to be considered to be Ambassadors, Consuls, Federal Judges, and other officers of the federal government. The relevant House Committee shall choose three of these to be interviewed by the relevant Senate Committee, which shall designate one person for each position, who upon approval by the entire Senate shall assume that position.
The Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers as they think proper in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.
If any appointed office shall become vacant during a recess of Congress, the President may grant a commission which shall expire upon the 15th day after Congress reconvenes.
Section 3. Removal
These executive officers, or any other elected or appointed member of the federal government, may be removed from office upon impeachment for violations of the duties of office, failure to uphold the oath of office, treason, bribery, or other crimes against the Constitution, the nation, or the people. Such impeachment may be brought by a majority vote of either House, relevant oversight committee of either the House or the Senate, majorities in 2/3 of the states’ legislatures, petitions of 10% of the voters (measured by the most recent presidential election) in 2/3 of the states, a 2/3 vote of the Cabinet, or by a recommendation of removal by the President. Conviction and removal from office shall occur upon a 60% vote of the House and the Senate.
Section 4. There shall be no executive privilege. Neither the President nor any other officer of the federal executive shall be privileged or immune against investigation by Congress or the courts.
Section 5. Veto Power
Upon passage of both houses of Congress, a bill shall be presented to the President who shall have power to sign the bill into law, fail to sign it, upon which it shall become law after 30 days, or recommend a veto, either for constitutional or other reasons.
If the President believes the law that would result from the bill would be unconstitutional, the bill will be presented to the Supreme Court for review. The Supreme Court in this case shall consider only whether or not it would be unconstitutional. If it does not find the law would be unconstitutional, it shall immediately become law.
If the President’s recommendation for veto is for any other reason, the bill shall be presented to the Cabinet. A 2/3 vote of the Cabinet shall be necessary to uphold the veto. In any such vote, the President shall be recused from the deliberation of the Cabinet.
Any bill passed by 2/3 of both houses is only subject to the constitutional veto.
Section 6. Executive Orders
The President shall have no power to create law by Executive Order. The Cabinet may create temporary law by Executive Order by a 2/3 vote. Within 90 days of any such Executive Order issued by the Cabinet, it shall be entered into both houses of Congress as a bill. If Congress does not pass the bill, the law shall be expired. No Executive Order of the Cabinet may counter or circumvent any law passed by Congress.
Section 7. Open Government
All proceedings of Congress, all committees and subcommittees thereof, the Cabinet, and the executive officers of each department shall be available to any registered voter at any public library.