Executive Nomination Process Research Guide
This research guide provides links to resources that discuss the executive nomination process and will focus on the top advisory positions, such as Cabinet members and White House staff.
Every new president assembles a team of advisors. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, provides for the President, who "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate..." these high government officials. U.S. Const. art. 2 s.2 cl.2
Today more than 2.000 high-level positions in the Cabinet departments and independent agencies are submitted to the Senate for approval. Currently, these positions are outlined in the 2008 edition of the United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions, commonly referred to as the Plum Book. Appointees to each of these positions must be approved by the Senate. This research guide is designed to provide a link to resources which discuss the nomination process and will focus on the top advisory positions, such as Cabinet members and White House staff. The nomination of Supreme Court justices is covered in a separate research guide.
Nomination and Confirmation Process Resources
When the President names a new Cabinet member, or makes another executive appointment, the following steps occur:
- The nomination is submitted by the President in writing to the Senate.
- The nomination is referred to the committee with jurisdiction over the position or the agency in which the position exists. i.e. The Armed Services Committee will review the Secretary of Defense nominee.
- Committee hearings may occur at this point.
- Once a nominee is placed on the Senate's Executive Calendar, floor consideration of the nomination may occur.
- The White House is notified of the confirmation or rejection of the nominee. The Congressional Record includes all nominations submitted to the Senate, as well as the action taken on them.
This process is further explained in the following report: Lorraine H. Tong, Senate Confirmation Process: An Overview, CRS Report for Congress, updated on March 27, 2008
Secondary Sources on the Process
Many resources discuss the presidential nomination and confirmation process. Here are a few in the Georgetown Law Library collection.
The Federal Appointments Process : A Constitutional and Historical Analysis, by Michael J. Gerhardt JK731 .G47 2003
Innocent Until Nominated : The Breakdown of the Presidential Appointments Process, by G. Calvin Mackenzie, editor JK731 .I56 2001
The President Shall Nominate : How Congress Trumps Executive Power, by Mitchel A. Sollenberger KF5050 .S66 2008
Law Review Articles:
Brannon P. Denning, Reforming the New Confirmation Process: Replacing "Despise and Resent" with "Advise and Consent", 53 ADMIN. L. REV. 1-44 (2001) available through HeinOnline
William G. Ross, The Senate's Constitutional Role in Confirming Cabinet Nominees and Other Executive Officers, 48 SYRACUSE L. REV. 1123 -1221 (1998) available through HeinOnline
Paul Jenks, CongressLine: Presidential Patronage, published on LLRX.com, November 22, 2008.
Presidential Transition Guide to Federal Human Resource Management. U. S. Office of Personnel Management, June 2008.
PrunesOnline: A Guide to Presidential Appointments, The Council for Excellence in Government, 2008. Highlights of this site include:
The Senate committees hear testimony on proposed nominees in order to determine whether or not to approve the presidential nominee. The reality is that over 98% of the nominations are approved, but the Hearings often provide interesting insight into the nominee and the Cabinet position.
Members of the Georgetown Univerisity Law Center community have a number of ways to access these hearings. One way is to search for these hearings using the ProQuest Congressional (formerly Lexis Nexis Congressional) database.
Here's a look at a sample Advanced Search. Notice the search term is "Nominations" and only Hearings are selected. Notice that this search will only retrieve hearings from the previous 2 years. If desired, users can restrict by other dates or indicate a nominee's name as a search term also.
Other ways to access hearings electronically are outlined below:
|GPO Access (free web)||Selected hearings from 104th Congress (1995) to present|
|Senate Committees (free web)||Links to the hearings pages of Congressional committees from Law Library Society of DC|
|Congressional Hearings on the Web (free web)||This U. of Michigan site links to the hearings pages of Congressional committees|
|Lexis||Legislation & Politics - U.S. & U.K.> U.S. Congress> CQ Congressional Testimony. Selected transcripts from 103rd Congress (1993) to present|
|Westlaw||USTestimony database. Selected transcripts from 103rd Congress (1993) to present|
For information on print and microfilm holdings of Senate hearings, consult our Legislative History Research Guide.
- CNN.com - Transition to Power
- Fox News Transition Tracker - President-Elect Obama's Cabinet
- The New York Times - Appointments and Executive Changes
- Newsweek.com - Team Obama
- Time.com - Obama's White House
- USNews.com - Building a New Government
- The Washington Post - A Transition to Power
Updated 01/13/09 (MK) Created 12/08 (MK)
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