Congress votes to streamline Senate confirmation process

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., left, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., J. Scott Applewhite/AP
The House Tuesday passed a bipartisan measure to streamline the executive branch appointments process by removing a substantial number of positions from the list of those that require confirmation by the Senate.

The bill, S. 679, eliminates the need for the Senate to vote on about 170 executive branch nominations and 3,000 military officer corps appointments. It  is the result of a 2011 agreement between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

The Senate approved the measure last year. It now goes to President Obama for his signature. 

With the bill's passage, "future administrations will be able to get their teams in place more quickly, and the Senate will be able focus its time and energy on the most important executive branch appointments," said Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn, who chairs the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. "In no way does this bill erode the Senate’s role of 'advice and consent.' Rather, it strengthens the Senate’s power by freeing us up to concentrate on nominees who will actually shape national policy.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., ranking member of the Rules Committee, said, “too often the confirmation process has degenerated into a time-consuming, unfair ordeal that creates an 'innocent until nominated' syndrome. This law will make it easier for the next president to recruit distinguished, qualified Americans. It will avoid the trivialization of the nominations process and focus the Senate’s full attention on the 1,200 nominees still requiring confirmation. "

Along with Lieberman and Alexander, Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, had sponsored the measure. 

Some House Republicans argued the bill hands too much power to presidential administrations. “Our founding fathers established the Senate confirmation process to check the president and keep him from abusing his power," said Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., who voted against the measure. "This administration has only proven the need for a check on the powers of the president, and I believe this legislation is a step in the wrong direction. If the Senate thinks the confirmation process is too time consuming, Congress needs to examine the Senate’s procedures, not enable the Senate to do less work or give the executive branch more power.”

Positions removed from the list requiring confirmation included public affairs officials and deputies reporting to officials who will still need to be confirmed. 

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.