UNITED STATES — Every time a new presidential administration takes the White House, there are hundreds of appointments that they have to make, with most of those requiring the advice and consent of the Senate. However, not many people actually know the process for being confirmed by the Senate, so here is a primer to prepare you for the confirmation process about to begin for President-Elect Trump’s cabinet hopes.
WHO REQUIRES SENATE CONFIRMATION?
The short answer is a lot of positions in the federal government require the advice and consent of the Senate. For starters, all Cabinet-Level positions, minus the Chief of Staff need to be approved by the Senate. For a look at the current proposed cabinet, click here.
HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK?
The process can either be fairly simple, or very complex, depending on numerous factors. The first step is for the President-Elect to formally nominate someone for a specific position. This can be done either with a press conference or by simply releasing a statement.
Once the nominee has formally been made, they have to fill out and submit forms on a range of issues, ranging from financial disclosure forms to background checks, and everything in between. These forms are sent to whichever Senate committee has jurisdiction over the nomination.
Once the committee receives the forms, they begin the vetting process, while the FBI at the same time conducts a background check. Once these investigations are finished, the committee decides how the nomination will proceed. They have two basic options. The first is to recommend the nomination to the full Senate, which leads to a vote of all 100 Senators, with a simple majority needed to confirm. The second option is to vote to not recommend the nomination, in which case the nomination is considered dead, and the President-Elect needs to choose someone else.
HOW OFTEN DOES A NOMINEE GET REJECTED?
In short, very rarely does a nominee not get confirmed. In total, nine nominations have been rejected by the Senate, with the last being John G. Tower, who was nominated in 1989 by George H.W. Bush to the position of Secretary of Defense but was rejected 47-53 by the Senate. Before that, it had been 30 years since a nominee had been rejected.
There are a handful of nominees who either have had no action taken or have been withdrawn before coming to a vote. The last nomination to be withdrawn was Tom Daschle, who was nominated in 2008 by President Obama as the Secretary of Health and Human Services. His nomination was withdrawn in February 2009. The most recent nominee to have no action takes is Merrick Garland, who was appointed in 2016 to fill an open spot on the Supreme Court but has yet to be voted on by the Senate.