An update to the confirmation process

Tom Daschle, a former Democratic Senator and Congressman for South Dakota and former Senate Majority Leader, was announced to the position of Secretary of Health and Human Services on the 18th of November. He has gone through the Health and Human Services Committee hearing, carried out on the 7th of January, and is awaiting the committee vote.

  • Update: Still awaiting committee vote.

Hillary Clinton, the current Senator for New York (until she is confirmed to her new post, whereupon she will resign her Senate seat) and former First Lady, was announced to the position of Secretary of State on the 1st of December. She has gone through the Foreign Relations Committee hearing held on the 13th of January, the committee voted in her favour 16 to 1, and is now awaiting a full Senate floor vote.

  • Update: The Senate held the floor vote for Clinton on the 21st of January, where she was confirmed as the Secretary of State. The results of the vote was 94 for, 2 against. Senators David Vitter (Republiocan, Louisiana) Jim DeMint (Republican, South Carolina) were the only two to vote against Clinton, while Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona) was instrumental in getting the rest of the Republicans to support the vote.

Shaun Donovan, former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Multifamily Housing and a former Comissioner of Housing Preservation and Development in New York City, was announced to the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development on the 13th of December. He has gone through the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing, held on the 13th of January, and is waiting for the committee to vote.

  • Update: Still awaiting committee vote.

Steven Chu, 1997 Nobel Prize winner and current (until confirmation) director of the Energy Department’s Berkley National Laboratory (the US’s preeminent science and research institute), was nominated to the position of Secretary of Energy on the 10th of December. He made it through the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearings on the 13th of January and now awaits their vote. A tidbit of information: Chu will be in charge (other than the launching of) of the US’ nuclear weapons.

  • Update: The Energy and Natural Resources Committee forwent its vote, with the nomination going straight to the Senate floor. Chu was confirmed by voice vote on the 20th of January. The is one of the 6 nominations that were fast-tracked on inauguration day.

Peter Orszag, former senior council on President Clinton’s National Economic Council and head of the CBO, was nominated to lead the Office of Management and Budget Director on the 25th of November. He has made it through the Budget Committee’s hearing on the 19th of January, and awaits a vote from them.

  • Update: The Budget Committee forwent its vote, with the nomination going straight to the Senate floor. Orszag was confirmed by voice vote on the 20th of January. The is one of the 6 nominations that were fast-tracked on inauguration day. Out of the 6, this was the most important and a good job to get filled so that the administration can get to work on the economy.

Arne Duncan, current (until confirmation) Cheif Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools, was nominated for Secretary of Education on the 13th of January, sat the same day for the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee’s hearing, and now awaits the vote. Two bits of information: Duncan supports a somewhat Republican approach to schools, which means he will probably be the quickest nominee through the Senate, and; he is married to an Australian.

  • Update: The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee forwent its vote, with the nomination going straight to the Senate floor. Duncan was confirmed by voice vote on the 20th of January. The is one of the 6 nominations that were fast-tracked on inauguration day.

Eric Holder, former trail court judge for President Reagan and Washington, D.C.’s federal prosecutor then deputy attorney general for President Clinton, was nominated for Attorney General on the 1st of December. His hearing before the Judicary Committee began on the 15th of January but is on-going.

  • Update: Still awaiting committee vote. The hearing won’t be so bad, I suspect, though the vote on the floor will be a sign of the Republican’s future as an opposition. If the vote is very partisan, then they will be acting the disruptive and antagonistic role. If the line between the parties is blurred, then they will be playing a critical and constructive role. It’s all because of the powers that Holder will have – powers enough to investigate the behaviour of the previous administration. Keep an eye on this one.

Tom Vilsack, former two-term governor of Iowa, was nominated for Secretary of Agriculture on the 17th of December. His hearing, in front of the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, was held on the 14th of January, and he now is waiting for the committee’s vote;

  • Update: The Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee forwent its vote, with the nomination going straight to the Senate floor. Vislack was confirmed by voice vote on the 20th of January. The is one of the 6 nominations that were fast-tracked on inauguration day.

Robert Gates, the current Secretary of Defense, does not require reconfirmation.

  • While not an update on the confirmation process, I’d like to mention a bit of future trivia. During the whole inauguration ceremony, Robert Gates wasn’t there. Instead, he was at an undisclosed and secure location as per the requirements for the line of succession. The rules are that, when there is an assembly of the entire line of succession, such as the inauguration ceremony or a presidential address to a joint sitting of congress, that one member of the line must be kept in a secure and undiscolsed location in case something were to incapacitate every other member. Seeings how Gates was in the line of succession for both President Bush and President Obama, and he was the only cabinet member sworn in for Obama’s new team, he was kept away.

Lisa Jackson, former chief of staff to the governor of New Jersey, assistant commissioner of Compliance and Enforcement and assistant commissioner for Land Use Management and commissioner of Department of Environmental Protection in New Jersey, was nominated for Administrator of the EPA on the 12th of December. She fronted the Environment and Public Works Committee on the 14th of January for her hearing, and now is waiting for their vote. Two bits of information: Jackson has over 20 years experience in various EPA departments at the state and national level, and; she will be the first African-American to lead the department.

  • Update: Still awaiting committee vote.

Janet Napolitano, current (until confirmation) governor of Arizona and former attorney general of Arizona, was nominated for Secretary of Homeland Security on the 1st of December. Her hearing before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was carried out on the 15th of January and she now waits for their vote.

  • Update: The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee forwent its vote, with the nomination going straight to the Senate floor. Napolitano was confirmed by voice vote on the 20th of January. The is one of the 6 nominations that were fast-tracked on inauguration day. While I said that the OMB job was probably the most important to be filled, this would give it a close second.

Ken Salazar, current (until confirmation) senator for Colorado and former attorney general of Colorado, was nominated for Secretary of the Interior on 17th of December. His hearing, on the 15th of January was in front of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee as well, and is waiting for their vote.

  • Update: The Energy and Natural Resources Committee forwent its vote, with the nomination going straight to the Senate floor. Napolitano was confirmed by voice vote on the 20th of January. The is one of the 6 nominations that were fast-tracked on inauguration day.

Hilda Solis, current congresswoman for the 32nd district in California and former state assemblymember and senator, was nominated for Secretary of Labor on the 19th of December. Her hearing was also before the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on the 9th of January. She is still waiting for the committee to vote.

  • Update: Still awaiting committee vote.

Timothy Geithner, current (until confirmation) president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, economic attache to the US embassy in Tokyo, former member of the internal affairs division, deputy assistant secretary for international monetary and financial policy, senior deputy assistant secretary for international affairs, assistant secretary for international affairs (all in the Treasury Department), under secretary of the Treasury for international affairs, senior fellow in the international economics department at the Council on Foreign Relations, director of the policy development and review department at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was nominated for Secretary of the Treasury on the 24th of November. His hearing, in front of the Finance Committee, is scheduled for the 21st of January. Submission of evidence has revealed that he owed $34,000 in taxes to the government and employed an illegal immigrant house cleaner. Despite this, while he waits for the Committee’s hearing and vote, Obama said he will back Geithner to the end, a sign that Obama thinks this is the best man for the job.

  • Update: Still awaiting committee vote. From what I’ve been reading, I think this will be one of the last to be confirmed, and certainly will have some dissent from Republicans – more than other nominations.

Eric Shinseki, former Army chief of staff, 4-star general, veteran of the Vietnam War and the Bosnian War, and twice recipient of the Purple Heart, was nominated for Secretary of Veterans Affairs on the 7th of December. While the Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing began on the 14th of January, it is on-going.

  • Update: The Veterans’ Affairs Committee forwent its vote, with the nomination going straight to the Senate floor. Napolitano was confirmed by voice vote on the 20th of January. The is one of the 6 nominations that were fast-tracked on inauguration day.

Ray LaHood, Republican congressman representing Illinois’ 18th district, was nominated for Secretary of Transportation on the 19th of December. His hearing before the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is scheduled for the 21st of January. Some comments on LaHood: he is of Arabic descent; as mentioned, he is a Republican and the only bi-partisan pick of Obama’s for his cabinet, and; he is probably Obama’s weakest and most political pick in that he has bare-minimal (one stint on a committee in the 1990s) experience with transportation and the Secretary’s portfolio, with his appeal being his cross-aisle work and relationships with current serving Republicans.

  • Update: Still awaiting committee vote.

Ron Kirk, former mayor of Dallas and former secretary of state for Texas, was nominated as the US Trade Representative on the 19th of December. There is yet to be a scheduled hearing for Kirk in front of any committee.

  • Update: Still awaiting committee vote.

Thomas.

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3 thoughts on “An update to the confirmation process

  1. Quick question. How far down in the line of succession do they need to go when nobody from the cabinet if moving to the new administration (as normally would be the case)to keep from an inauguration??

  2. Well, under the 25th ammendment, the line of succession is this:

    1. Vice President
    2. Speaker of the House (Pelosi)
    3. President pro tempore of the Senate (Byrd)
    4. Secretary of State
    5. Secretary of the Treasury
    6. Secretary of Defense
    7. Attorney General
    8. Secretary of the Interior
    9. Secretary of Agriculture
    10. Secretary of Commerce
    11. Secretary of Labor
    12. Secretary of Health and Human Services
    13. Secretary of Houseing and Urban Development
    14. Secretary of Transportation
    15. Secretary of Energy
    16. Secretary of Education
    17. Secretary of Veterans Affairs
    18. Secretary of Homeland Security

    That’s the list proper. It doesn’t go beyond that at all. So if, say, there was no cabinet official serving over the two presidencies, still one of the previous administration’s secretaries would be hidden.

    I suspect that in the case the president-elect was incapacitated after being sworn in, as well as the rest of the line of succession, then the still hidden secretary would become president. But that’s only a guess. I couldn’t find any information to confirm or deny it.

    The theory is that if the whole line is exhausted, then if the House and/or the Senate could convene then they could elect a Speaker/President pro tempore and they would step into the role as acting president.

    As a side note, only the Vice President can *become* the President through the line of succession. The rest are only ever Acting President, no matter how long they serve in the role.

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