Obama Asks Congress for Authority to Consolidate Federal Agencies

On January 13, President Obama called on Congress to grant him authority to merge multiple federal agencies, subject to an up or down vote of Congress.

The president said that if given this power, his first use of it would be to consolidate six departments that focus on business and trade: the U.S. Department of Commerce’s core business and trade functions, the Small Business Administration, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency.

According to the administration, presidents had similar authority from 1932 until 1984, when it lapsed. The president challenged members of Congress to support the proposal. Many have previously supported similar measures, but heightened election-year polarization may make any proposal difficult to get through Congress this year.

The proposal is called the Consolidation Authority Act.

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