The role of the Senate in the confirmation process is defined in the Constitution. Article II, Section 2 provides that the President "shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint high government officials."
The Senate gives its advice and consent to presidential appointments to the Supreme Court and to high-level positions in the Cabinet departments and independent agencies. The Senate also confirms appointments of members of regulatory commissions, ambassadors, federal judges, U.S. attorneys and U.S marshals. There are more than 2,000 of these appointments.
Democrats understand their constitutional obligation with respect to the confirmation process. For proof, take a look at President Bush’s first year in office:
- Only 3 nominees waited to be confirmed for at least 3 months
Compare these statistics with President Obama’s first year:
- 46 nominees waited to be confirmed for at least 3 months
- 45 of Obama’s nominees lingered for at least 4 months
- 9 waited for at least 6 months
Who are some of these nominees that Republicans have slow-walked?
- General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the forces in Afghanistan
- Secretary of the Army, John McHugh – a Republican – had a hold placed on him by Republican Senators
- Democrats were forced to file cloture on Chris Hill, now Ambassador to Iraq. That vote ended up 73-17.
In the wake of the Christmas Day bombing attempt, Republicans are still slow-walking two critical intelligence nominees:
- Philip Goldberg, nominee to lead the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research
- Caryn Wagner, nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis
Remarking on Republican obstructionist tactics on the president’s nominees, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, "I have no doubt our friends on the other side realize that when we keep empty a critical office in the Pentagon, State Department or Department of Homeland Security, we are not keeping the American people safe."