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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.


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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 2013 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:

  1. The nomination is submitted by the President in writing to the Senate.
  2. 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.
  3. Committee hearings may occur at this point.
  4. Once a nominee is placed on the Senate's Executive Calendar, floor consideration of the nomination may occur.
  5. 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: Presidential Appointments to Full-Time Positions in Independent and Other Agencies During the 111th Congress, CRS-2013-GVF-0046 (Jan. 22. 2013)