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Monday, December 3, 2012

Presidential Appointee Positions Requiring Senate Confirmation and Committees Handling Nominations

Christopher M. Davis
Analyst on Congress and the Legislative Process

Jerry W. Mansfield
Information Research Specialist

As part of the process of making an appointment to an advice and consent position, the President usually submits a nomination to the Senate. The Senate’s executive clerk, acting on behalf of the Senate’s presiding officer, refers the nomination to the appropriate committee or committees on the day it is received. When making a referral, the executive clerk is guided by Senate Rule XXV, which establishes the subject matter under the purview of each committee and directs that “all proposed legislation, messages, petitions, memorials, and other matters relating primarily to [those] subjects” be referred to that committee. The executive clerk is also guided by precedents set by prior referrals and by standing orders and unanimous consent (UC) agreements adopted by the Senate pertaining to the referral of nominations.

Most nominations are referred to one committee. For some positions, a nomination or series of nominations to a position are referred to more than one committee, pursuant to a standing order, a UC agreement, or a statutory provision. A nomination may be jointly or sequentially referred to multiple committees. Joint referral has generally occurred when more than one committee has had a claim to jurisdiction over the subject matter related to the position. Under joint referral, the committees receive the nomination simultaneously and may consider it concurrently. All committees to which a nomination is referred must report it to the full Senate or be discharged from its further consideration before it may be considered on the floor. Sequential referral has generally occurred when one committee has had predominant jurisdiction over the subject matter related to the position, but other committees have had a claim as well. Under this process, a nomination is referred to the committee with predominant jurisdiction first and is then sequentially referred to additional committees. Consideration of subsequent referrals can be subject to a time limit after which the committee or committees without primary jurisdiction are automatically discharged from further consideration of the nomination. Certain nominations or categories of nominations are subject to a potentially more expedited Senate consideration pursuant to a standing order adopted in the 112
th Congress.

This report identifies, by Senate committee, presidentially appointed positions requiring Senate confirmation based on referrals as of the date of passage of S. 679, which became P.L. 112-166 on August 10, 2012. This public law removed numerous presidentially appointed positions from the advice and consent process for relevant U.S. Senate committees. A complete list of the presidentially appointed positions that no longer require Senate confirmation may be found in the Appendix of this report. For each committee list, positions are categorized as full- or part-time and then grouped by department or agency. Where nominations have been referred to more than one committee, the organizations and titles are noted under each of the committees to which the nominations were referred. The lists also include the lengths of fixed terms, where applicable. Some commissions, councils, and other multi-member entities are required, by their enabling statutes, to maintain political balance in some way. This is noted in parentheses where applicable.

The information provided in this report was compiled from the Senate nominations database of the Legislative Information System available to the congressional community at (the public database is, data on departmental and agency websites, telephone conversations with agency officials, and the United States Code. For related information, see CRS Report RL31980, Senate Consideration of Presidential Nominations: Committee and Floor Procedure, by Elizabeth Rybicki.

Date of Report: November 15, 2012
Number of Pages: 48
Order Number: RL30959
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