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Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 5056 - Thomas Jefferson Commemoration Commission Act

July 28, 1992


(Allen (R) Virginia and 22 others)

The Administration opposes enactment of H.R. 5056. Despite its laudable purpose, to honor the 250th anniversary of Thomas Jefferson's birth, this bill presents serious constitutional infirmities.

H.R. 5056 would create the Thomas Jefferson Commemoration Commission (Commission), which would be responsible for planning and developing programs to commemorate Jefferson's birth. Because those duties appear to constitute the exercise of "significant authority pursuant to the laws of the United States," the Commission's members must be appointed in a manner consistent with the Constitution's Appointments Clause, art. II, section 2, clause 2. Contrary to that Clause, however, the bill would, in effect, appoint certain officials to the Commission, would require that the President appoint others from recommendations of the congressional leadership, and would restrict the number of persons the President could appoint from the same political party.

In addition, under the Incompatibility Clause a person "holding any Office under the United States" cannot also be a member of Congress, and under the Ineligibility Clause no member of Congress may be "appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States." H.R. 5056, however, provides that the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives would be members of the Commission.

Finally, even if the Commission were clearly an advisory body, its hybrid composition still would be inconsistent with separation of powers principles, and it would lack the appropriate balance between the Executive and Legislative branches.

George Bush, Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 5056 - Thomas Jefferson Commemoration Commission Act Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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