Presidential Appointments, the Senate’s Confirmation Process, and Changes Made in the 112th Congress

The pace of the appointment and confirmation processes has been the subject of a series of critical reports and proposals for change. Many commentators believe that the executive branch vetting, and/or the confirmation process in the Senate, is too long and difficult and discourages people from seeking government office. Others, however, contend that most nominations are successful, suggesting that the process is functioning as it should, and that careful scrutiny of candidates is appropriate. During the 112th Congress, a bipartisan group of Senators crafted two measures they contend will make the appointment process easier and quicker. Both measures were adopted.  Prior to the adoption of the measures discussed in this report, there were approximately 1,200-1,400 positions in the executive branch requiring the Senate’s advice and consent. This Congressional Research Report analyzes these new measures.  

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