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04/19/2024 02:16 PM
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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: August 14, 2023 11:13 AM
From: Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill and Sen. Judy Ward
To: All Senate members
Subject: Proposed Constitutional Amendment addressing Unconfirmed Executive Cabinet Secretaries 
Over the course of the last administration, there were more than 30 acting secretaries serving in official capacities without the consent of the Senate. The current administration has continued this trend, allowing a nominee to continue in her role as acting secretary even after a failure to garner sufficient support for confirmation. Considering the revolving door of cabinet officials and the power they hold, we must have individuals who are consented to by the Senate to serve in these capacities.    


In the near future, we will introduce a proposed constitutional amendment that will clarify the authority of a cabinet secretary that has not been confirmed by the Senate of Pennsylvania, stating that they do not have the ability to perform certain actions, such as issue executive orders or promulgate regulations on behalf of the governor.   


We believe this will provide greater oversight and accountability in state government and shift away from the potential of an unelected and unconfirmed government bureaucrat issuing sweeping orders or mandates impacting the people of Pennsylvania without the advice and consent of the Senate.   


This measure would reaffirm the intent of P.A. Const. art. IV § 8 (a) of the Constitution where the governor nominates and the Senate of Pennsylvania consents to cabinet officials and preserves a necessary check and balance among equal branches of government that the nomination process was meant to provide.     


“…But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others…Ambition must be made to counteract ambition…It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself…”  

Federalist Paper 51  


Please join us in cosponsoring this important legislation. If you have questions regarding this legislation, please reach out to Chloe Mandara at 717-787-7085 or cmandara@pasen.gov or Greg Beckenbaugh at 717-787-5490 or gbeckenbaug@pasen.gov.