Obama Wants Power to Merge 6 Trade Agencies

Move aims to cut down on government bureaucracy

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 13, 2012 8:39 AM CST

(Newser) – President Obama will today announce a plan to mash together six federal agencies—including the Commerce Department—in an effort to simplify the government's sprawling regulatory bureaucracy. Obama can't actually make the move without Congressional approval, however, so he intends to ask Congress for a special reorganizational power—last held by Ronald Reagan—that would allow him to propose mergers and guarantee him an up-or-down vote on each merger from Congress within 90 days. The Wall Street Journal reports that some lawmakers may be wary of granting the Obama this fast-track authority, as they wouldn't be permitted to amend any of his proposals.

The plan would merge Commerce with the Small Business Administration, the Office of the US Trade Representative, the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and the Trade and Development Agency. Obama first proposed this reorganization almost a year ago, but got hung up on various obstacles and details. Not least among those: The still unresolved question of what to do with the Census Bureau and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, current Commerce entities unrelated to trade or business.

President Barack Obama stands with John Bryson, his nominee to be the next Commerce Secretary, right, and current Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, May 31, 2011, in the White House State Dining Room.
President Barack Obama stands with John Bryson, his nominee to be the next Commerce Secretary, right, and current Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, May 31, 2011, in the White House State Dining Room.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama stands with John Bryson, his nominee to be the next Commerce Secretary, right, and current Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, May 31, 2011, in the White House State Dining Room.
President Barack Obama stands with John Bryson, his nominee to be the next Commerce Secretary, right, and current Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, May 31, 2011, in the White House State Dining Room.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at the University of Illinois at Chicago Forum, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, Chicago.
President Barack Obama speaks at a campaign event at the University of Illinois at Chicago Forum, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012, Chicago.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
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