U.S. Senate Confirmation Process
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According to United States Constitution Article II, Section 2, the President "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States."
The process of Senate Confirmation came to be known after the portion of the section regarding the senate as "Advice and Consent." In current practical use, "advice" has become subordinate to "consent," meaning that senatorial approval has become a necessary step in the appointment process. However, the Executive Branch still informally advises with senators.
The President recommends individuals for such appointments as prescribed by the Constitution. There are approximately 4,000 civilian and 65,000 nominations are made per every two years. The majority of the nominations are made through the executive bureaucracies and their respective secretaries. The Cabinet members must also be nominated.
Article II, Section 2 also states that "Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments."
Also, when the Senate is in recess, the President may make a recess appointment which expires at the end of the following congressional session.
For the most part, the appointments which are "not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law", are sent, as nominations, to the Senate. Historically, the Senate confirmed nominations on the Senate floor, without committee referral. Today, however, the Senate committees, of which the particular nominations are relevant, convene to discuss the merits of the nominee. The nominations are then, usually, sent back to the floor with or without the support of the committee. For the most part, the nominations are confirmed. However, depending on the importance of the level of appointed position and the political situation of any given time, great deliberation can ensue. Usually, Supreme Court nominations are deliberated at great lengths by the Senate Judiciary Committee due to their importance and term length (life). Since the middle of the twentieth century, nominees of high level appointments have generally been expected to appear before the relevant Senate committee in person.
The particulars of the confirmation procedure vary from committee to committee. Each individual committee is accorded the responsibility of creating its own rules, provided that they do not conflict with the rules of the Senate.
The Senate may choose to not confirm a nominee in a couple of ways. First, the relevant committee may decide against confirmation by voting against sending the vote to the floor. Second, the vote may be sent to the Senate floor where it fails. Last, a Senator or many Senators may filibuster to block confirmation.
List of committees and confirmation jurisdiction
The following is a list of the Senate committees and what departmental or institutional appointments/changes are under their respective confirmation jurisdiction: