As President Obama ponders his choice for the next Librarian of Congress, the first time in nearly three decades that such a nomination will be necessary, the U.S. Senate has passed a bill to put a 10-year term on the position. If passed by the House and signed by the president, the bill will strip the job of the lifetime tenure it has carried since 1802.


The bipartisan “Librarian of Congress Succession Modernization Act of 2015,” co-sponsored by Senate Rules Administration Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) and ranking member Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), limits the automatic length of an initial appointment but does not represent a total term limit of the kind that holds the president to two four year terms: a given Librarian of Congress can continue to be reappointed every 10 years if the president in office at the time chooses to do so. A clause explicitly stating that a librarian can be reappointed is the sole alteration from the bill’s original version.

The Senate, which must confirm all Librarian of Congress nominees, passed the bill unanimously on Oct. 7. The House of Representatives’ version of the bill has been referred to the House Administration Committee, and would have to be passed by the House before it could be signed into law by the president.

“I have reason to believe that the White House will sign that bill if they get it,” Blunt, the junior Senator from Missouri, said in a statement provided to LJ.