Obama seeks power to merge agencies, shrink government

President Obama this morning will ask Congress to give him authority to significantly shrink the federal government by merging six agencies dealing with trade and commerce, a senior administration official said.

Obama is seeking power to propose a sweeping consolidation of agencies with overlapping duties with an eye toward saving money and improving performance, the official said. The president is asking Congress to grant him authority held by no president since Ronald Reagan.

As first reported by the Associated Press, the president will call for a vote by Congress on the request within 90 days.

The White House official said Obama would discuss the plan more fully in an event planned for this morning. The president is scheduled to speak on government reform in the East Room of the White House.


The idea of shrinking government is popular in the Republican presidential primaries, with contenders suggesting wiping out various agencies altogether. As that fight continues, Obama is building on his earlier public statements about trimming the federal government, including his decision last year to freeze the pay of federal workers.

In his State of the Union speech last year, Obama proposed reorganizing the federal government to make it more efficient. His proposal today comes in the run-up to this year’s State of the Union address.