America

Obama Looks To Merge Agencies, Streamline Government

(A new lede was put on this post at 11:30 a.m. ET.)

Saying "the government we have is not the government we need" and that it's still organized for the 20th Century, President Obama is asking Congress to give him the power to do some streamlining and merging of agencies that overlap.

"I'm calling on Congress to reinstate the authority that past presidents have had" to reorganize the government, the president just said at the White House. He pledged to only use the authority to make the government more efficient and leaner.

As we reported earlier, his first proposal is to merge agencies that deal with international trade, including some in the Commerce Department and the White House's Office of the Trade Representative.

Update at 11:58 a.m ET. Republican Reaction:

"Top Republicans said the plan comes after what they characterized as years of federal growth under Obama," CNN reports. " 'Americans want a government that's simpler, streamlined and secure,' said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). 'So after presiding over one of the largest expansions of government in history, and a year after raising the issue ... it's interesting to see the president finally acknowledge that Washington is out of control.' "

Update at 11:37 a.m. ET. "Six Is Not Better Than One":

According to the president, there are six departments and agencies focused on trade. "In this case, six is not better than one," he said. "We could consolidate them all into one department with one website, one phone number, one mission — helping American businesses succeed."

Our original post from 7:30 a.m. ET and an earlier update:

President Barack Obama plans to ask Congress "for more power to streamline the government by merging agencies," The Associated Press reports. It cites a "senior administration official" as its source.

Politico says it has confirmed the news that "in what could lead to a big reorganization of the federal government, President Obama will ask Congress for the power to merge departments and agencies to ... improve efficiency."

And The Hill is on the story as well, reporting that "President Obama, looking to make the federal government leaner, is looking to merge six trade and commerce agencies, a senior administration official confirmed."

According to the AP, the president's "first proposal would be to combine trade and commerce operations into one."

The White House says the president will be delivering "remarks on government reform" at 11:20 a.m. ET, from the East Room of the White House.

Update at 10:40 a.m. ET. Confirmed:

"The first reorganization the president will propose is to take some of the trade functions of the Commerce Department and his own U.S. Office of Trade Representative, as well as several other government agencies that deal with trade, and put them together," NPR's Scott Horsley tells our Newscast desk. "This is designed both to help businesses sort of navigate the federal bureaucracy and also to cut costs. The White House says this could save $3 billion over the next decade."

The president, Scott adds, will ask Congress for "fast-track authority to propose reorganizations." Lawmakers would have to cast up-or-down votes on such proposals within 90 days.

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