Lieberman, Collins, Schumer, Alexander Announce House Passage of Bipartisan Deal to Streamline Senate Confirmation Process

Measure Strikes Proper Balance Between Filling Important Positions Quickly While Preserving Senate’s ‘Advice and Consent’ Role

WASHINGTON Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Senators Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., announced House passage Tuesday of bipartisan legislation to clear the backlog of stalled executive nominations by permanently exempting a range of positions from Senate confirmation. 

The legislation, which was reported out of HSGAC and passed the Senate last year, will reduce gridlock and increase the productivity of the Senate. The legislation now moves to the President’s desk. 

Once signed by the President, the bill would eliminate the need for the Senate to vote on roughly 170 executive nominations and 3,000 Officer Corps positions. In all, the bill, combined with a separate Senate resolution that passed last summer, reduces or streamlines the number of positions requiring full Senate confirmation by one-third.

The measures are co-sponsored by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Senator Lieberman said: “This bipartisan legislation represents the Senate at its best. A problem was identified, and Democrats and Republicans  worked together to craft a solution. Now, future Administrations will be able to get their teams in place more quickly, and the Senate will be able focus its time and energy on the most important Executive Branch appointments. In no way does this bill erode the Senate’s role of “advice and consent.” Rather, it strengthens the Senate’s power by freeing us up to concentrate on nominees who will actually shape national policy.”

Senator Collins said: "The legislation passed today was a product of bipartisan negotiations among Congressional leaders last year. Those negotiations followed a series of hearings convened by the Senate Rules Committee on ways to make the Senate more efficient. The legislation itself was the subject of a hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, led by Senators Lieberman and Collins.  

Senator Schumer, the Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, said: “This landmark bipartisan agreement strikes the right balance between getting important positions in the government filled quickly and preserving the Senate’s ‘advice and consent’ role. It isn’t often this body voluntarily takes steps to curb its own power. But for the good of our democracy, the Senate must become more efficient. This reform bill will help to break the gridlock that has dominated the Senate, allowing both parties to focus on driving an agenda designed to create jobs and reduce the deficit. This legislation will allow a President of any party to more quickly build his or her team and get to work for the good of the country following an election."

Senator Alexander, the Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, said: “Too often the confirmation process has degenerated into a time-consuming, unfair ordeal that creates an ‘innocent until nominated’ syndrome. This law will make it easier for the next president to recruit distinguished, qualified Americans. It will avoid the trivialization of the nominations process and focus the Senate’s full attention on the 1,200 nominees still requiring confirmation. This bill completes the five-part agreement that began in this Congress to make the Senate more effective in getting results, which included ending secret holds on presidential nominations and legislation, and stopping the lengthy process of reading amendments aloud on the Senate floor as long as they’ve been posted online for at least 72 hours.”

A list of positions exempted from Senate confirmation—sorted by the Senate committee of jurisdiction—appears below.

Department of Agriculture

Assistant Secretary for Administration

Rural Utilities Service Administrator

Directors (7), Commodity Credit Corporation

Department of Commerce

Chief Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Officer Corps, NOAA (321)

Corporation for National and Community Service

Managing Directors (2)

Department of Defense

Assistant Secretary of Defense (Networks and Information Integration)

Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)

Director of the Selective Service System

Members (6), National Security Education Board

Council of Economic Advisers

Members (2)

Department of Education

Assistant Secretary for Management

Commissioner – Education Statistics

Members (15), National Board of Education Sciences

Department of Health and Human Services

Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

Public Health Services Corps (2536)

Department of Homeland Security

Assistant Administrator, Grants, FEMA

Administrator, U.S. Fire Administration

Director, Office of Counternarcotics Enforcement

Chief Medical Officer

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

US Agency for International Development

Assistant Administrator for Management

Department of Justice

Director, Bureau of Justice Statistics

Director, Bureau of Justice Assistance

Director, National Institute of Justice

Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Director, Office for Victims of Crime

Department of Labor

Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management

Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

Director, Women’s Bureau

Office of National Drug Control Policy

Deputy Director

Deputy Director, Demand Reduction

Deputy Director, State and Local Affairs

Deputy Director, Supply Reduction

Department of State

Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

Assistant Secretary for Administration

Department of Transportation

Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs

Deputy Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration

Administrator, St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation

Department of Treasury

Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

Assistant Secretary for Management

Treasurer of the United States

Administrator, Community Development Financial Institution Fund

Department of Veterans Affairs

Assistant Secretary for Management

Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration

Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs

Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security and Preparedness

Appalachian Regional Commission

Alternate Federal Co-Chairman

African Development Bank

Governor

Alternate Governor

African Development Fund

Governor

Alternate Governor

Asian Development Bank

Governor

Alternate Governor

Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development

Members (13), Board of Trustees

Mississippi River Commission

Commissioners (7)

National Council on Disability

Members (15)

National Institute for Literacy Advisory Board

Members (10)

National Museum and Library Services Board

Members (20)

National Science Board

Members (24)