Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Presidential Appointments, the Senate’s Confirmation Process, and Proposals for Change, 112th Congress
Maeve P. Carey
Analyst in Government Organization and Management
Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process
The responsibility for populating top positions in the executive and judicial branches of government is one the Senate and the President share. The President nominates an individual, the Senate may confirm him, and the President would then present him with a signed commission. The Constitution divided the responsibility for choosing those who would run the federal government by granting the President the power of appointment and the Senate the power of advice and consent.
Several hundred people go through the appointments process each year. The pace of the appointment and confirmation processes has been the subject of a series of critical reports and proposals for change. Critics believe that the executive branch vetting, and/or the confirmation process in the Senate, is too long and difficult and discourages people from seeking government office. Others, however, contend that most nominations are successful, suggesting that the process is functioning as it should, and that careful scrutiny of candidates is appropriate.
Recently, a bipartisan group of several Senators crafted two measures they contend will make the process easier and quicker. S. 679, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011, would simply remove the requirement for Senate confirmation for certain nominees, leaving it to the President to chose the official. S.Res. 116, a resolution “to provide for expedited Senate consideration of certain nominations subject to advice and consent,” would establish a potentially faster Senate confirmation process for a second group of nominees.
This report provides a brief background on advice and consent issues, an overview of the appointment process in both the executive and legislative branches, and a brief discussion of recent concerns about the system. Next, the report explores the events in the 112th Congress leading up to the introduction of the legislation and then provides an analysis of the two measures at issue.
Date of Report: June 17, 2011
Number of Pages: 27
Order Number: R41872
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