Obama sends Congress bill to help merge agencies

WASHINGTON (AP) ? President Barack Obama is asking Congress to give him more power to consolidate governmental functions, authority he said he would first employ to merge six major economic agencies into one

Obama sent Congress proposed legislation Thursday that would give presidents more freedom to combine agencies only if such mergers save money or reduce the size of government. Obama wants the kind of authority was last held by President Ronald Reagan.

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, Obama said he wants to consolidate business and trade agencies into one department “with one website, one phone number, and one mission — helping American businesses succeed.”

With the legislation, Obama is seeking to counter Republican criticism that he has presided over a government that has increased in size and cost.