US Coins

Why Rhett Jeppson's nomination continues to languish

Principal Deputy Mint Director Rhett Jeppson delivers remarks Aug. 25 during official launch ceremonies in Medora, N.D., for the 2016 Theodore Roosevelt National Park quarter dollar.

Image courtesy of U.S. Mint.

As Congress wrestles with keeping the federal government financially afloat beyond when the 2016 Fiscal Year closes Sept. 30, a number of President Obama’s nominations, including that of Matthew Rhett Jeppson as U.S. Mint director, continue to languish.

The full Senate has taken no vote on Jeppson's nomination for a five-year-term as the bureau’s 39th Mint director since the nomination was placed on the Senate Executive Calendar May 19, the same day the nomination was reported out of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs by its Republican chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama.

President Obama’s nomination of Jeppson, who joined the Mint Jan. 12, 2015, as principal deputy director, was received by Shelby’s committee July 13, 2015. Hearings on the nomination of Jeppson and four other nominees, including two disputed appointments for the Securities and Exchange Commission, were held March 15, 2016. All five nominations were held up when a vote was taken on all five together instead of separately. Any points of contention, however, were apparently satisfied when the Senate committee voted out all five nominations on May 19 to the full Senate. A vote in the full Senate has yet to take place.

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Should Jeppson’s nomination be approved, regardless of the manner, his service under the title “U.S. Mint Director” could be short-lived. By custom presidential appointees usually submit their resignations to an incoming president following a presidential election, even if the new chief executive is of the same political party. Jeppson is a Democrat. It would be up to the incoming president to accept or reject any resignation submitted.

The 38th Mint director, Edmund C. Moy, a Republican, did not submit a resignation to President Obama, but remained in office for most of his full five-year appointment. With less than a year remaining in that tenure, Moy left the Mint for the private sector, in January 2011. The Mint director’s post has been officially vacant since Moy’s departure.

The nomination of President Obama’s first choice for Mint director, automobile executive Bibiana Boerio in 2012, was never acted upon by the Senate at the committee level.

Jeppson’s nomination could still be approved through the seldom-used recess appointment method, should the full Senate not confirm Jeppson's appointment. The last time the recess appointment was used for a Mint director nomination was 1992.

David J. Ryder was nominated by President George Bush on July 25, 1991, to succeed Donna Pope as Mint director. Just under a year later, July 9, 1992, when the Senate had not seen fit to act upon Ryder’s nomination, Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady named him acting Mint director. Fifty-six days later, on Sept. 3, when the Congress was in recess, Bush named Ryder Mint director under the seldom-used recess appointment procedure.

By terms of a recess appointment, without Senate confirmation, the term of office ends at the conclusion of the next session of Congress, which in Ryder’s case was interpreted to be the end of the first session of the 103rd Congress.

Ryder’s term as Mint director ended at 3:07 p.m. Nov. 24 when the U.S. Senate adjourned its first session of the 103rd Congress without confirming his nomination.

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