WASHINGTON, DC— Today, U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Susan Collins (R-ME) announced the Senate’s passage of bipartisan legislation to clear the backlog of stalled executive nominations by permanently exempting a range of positions from Senate confirmation.  The legislation, which passed 79 to 20, will reduce gridlock and increase the productivity of the Senate. The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass. 

Once enacted into law, the bill would eliminate the need for the Senate to vote on roughly 170 executive nominations and 3,000 noncontroversial Officer Corps positions. In all, the bill, combined with a separate Senate resolution that was also expected to pass today, 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, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, which marked up and reported out the measure, said: “This legislation represents the Senate at its best. A problem was identified, and both sides of the aisle worked together to craft a solution. Now, future Administrations will be able to get their teams in place more quickly, and the Senate can focus its energy on the qualifications of the most important Executive Branch appointments. Some argue we are giving up our power of advice and consent. But I say the legislation strengthens the Senate’s power by freeing us up to concentrate on nominees who will actually shape national policy.”

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.”

Senator Alexander, the Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee, said: “This bipartisan effort will free up the Senate so it can focus on our country’s most urgent needs of reducing spending and debt, rather than on confirming hundreds of junior and part-time positions in any president’s administration, like the public-relations officer of a minor department. The Senate will still continue to confirm about a thousand presidential nominees – nearly four times as many appointees as President Kennedy had.

Senator Collins, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, said: “The number of positions requiring Senate confirmation has sky-rocketed in recent decades.  For those of us concerned about the size of government, it is alarming. Prioritizing our work for the American people, by eliminating some Senate-confirmed positions, does not diminish the Senate’s authority.  To the contrary, it will enable the Senate to focus on the critical work of creating jobs, reducing the debt, strengthening our homeland security, and conducting more effective oversight of the executive branch.”

The legislation passed today was a product of bipartisan negotiations among Senate leaders in January of this 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.  

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


Alternate Governor

African Development Fund


Alternate Governor

Asian Development Bank


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)