(Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

The White House announced Thursday that President Obama “appointed” Natalie Wyeth Earnest to be assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department and Gregory L. Parham as assistant secretary for administration at the Department of Agriculture.

There’s more news to these appointments than you might think. Normally, these jobs would require Senate confirmation. But under bipartisan (yes, you read that right) legislation passed last year, neither of them had to go through that torture. The law removed the need for Senate approval of about 169 of these and similar jobs.

The White House made use of the law last year to appoint a deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy and some folks to boards and possibly to some other positions last year.

But a quick check this week by the Partnership for Public Service of 23 of the 169 similar jobs affected by the law found 12 of them filled by holdovers from the first term and 11 still vacant. (Make that nine after Thursday.)

Thursday’s announcement also included the nomination of Jon M. Holladay to be chief financial officer at the Department of Agriculture Under the new law, unless a senator objects, that nomination (and about 270 others) falls into the new “streamlined” nominations category and will bypass the Senate agriculture committee and go directly to the Senate floor for a vote.