Federal Boards Thin Out

Friday, January 4, 2008

With Congress and the president locked in a standoff over nominations, the Federal Election Commission has effectively stopped functioning as primary season gets underway. The FEC enters 2008 with two of its six members, considerably short of the four votes needed for it to take any official action.

But it is far from the only federal agency hampered by vacancies.

According to the White House, there are about 30 nominations for full-time boards and commissions -- and more than 160 nominations total -- pending in Congress for various reasons.

A sampling of agencies where vacancies exist:

¿ Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Two vacancies and one holdover on the seven-member board that oversees the central banking system. Under federal law, a holdover may remain in office until he is replaced.

¿ Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission. Adjudicative agency that enforces regulations covering health and safety in the nation's mines. Federal mine inspectors issue citations and orders to mine operators.

The five-member board is down to two members. Three members are required for a quorum. As a result, the commission cannot decide cases.

¿ Federal Labor Relations Authority. Handles disputes between unions and federal agencies. The three-member board is down to two members. Any decision requires agreement of both, one a Democrat and one a Republican.

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