Executive Branch Nomination Process Won't Start Over in 2016

By Anthony Adragna

Dec. 23 — Executive branch nominees awaiting Senate confirmation will not have to return to square one in 2016 after the Senate opted to hold them over for the new year before adjourning Dec. 18.

Senate rules require all pending nominations to be returned to the president at the end of each year, but the chamber adopted a unanimous motion to keep all but two Justice Department nominations active. That means they will not have to be formally renominated by President Barack Obama.

“All but a couple stay here,” Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), told Bloomberg BNA.

Confirmations are still relatively unlikely in the final year of the Obama administration, but the Senate action removes a series of procedural hurdles that could delay them further (53 GERR 1424, 12/22/15)(39 CRR 1495, 12/21/15)(46 ER 3842, 12/18/15)(2015 WLPM 50, 12/17/15)(240 DEN B-1, 12/15/15)(See previous story, 12/15/15)(239 ECR, 12/14/15).

Numerous positions throughout the Obama administration are vacant heading into the president's final year in office. Eight of the 14 slots at the Environmental Protection Agency requiring Senate action are vacant or filled by acting officials, for example.

Progress on Two Nominations

Meanwhile, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee may finally be able to consider the nominations of Stan Meiburg to be deputy administrator and Karl Brooks to be assistant administrator of administration and resources management.

Kristina Baum, a committee spokeswoman, told Bloomberg BNA an EPA employee dropped off required paperwork and questionnaires on Dec. 18. No hearing on the nominations could be scheduled until the information had been submitted.

The committee held a hearing on the nominations of Ann Dunkin to be assistant administrator of environmental information, Jane Nishida to be assistant administrator for international and tribal affairs and Thomas Burke to be assistant administrator for research and development in June, but has not voted on them to date (113 DER A-53, 6/12/15)(113 DEN A-2, 6/12/15)(46 ER 1800, 6/12/15)(112 ECR, 6/11/15).

To contact the reporter on this story: Anthony Adragna in Washington at aadragna@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com