The Senate Wednesday voted 79-20 to approve legislation to streamline its confirmation process by reducing the number of positions requiring full Senate confirmation and requiring fewer nominees to go through a full confirmation procedure.
The action, which removes 169 of the total 1,416 jobs now requiring Senate approval, had been something of a foregone conclusion since a bipartisan group of senators, including Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) signed on in January.
The jobs in that category — such as assistant secretaries of public affairs — are generally ones that rarely spark partisan Senate battles. The
House of Representatives, which has no role in confirming nominees, has indicated it will pass the measure.
A Senate resolution, which is also expected to pass as early as Wednesday afternoon, would set up a second category of 272 nominees for top jobs who would be able to bypass often laborious and time-consuming Senate committe action and go directly to the Senate floor — but only if no senator objects to that procedure.
The second category includes jobs such as chief financial officers and assistant secretaries for legislative affairs at various agencies.
“It isn’t often this body voluntarily takes steps to curb its own power,” Senate Rules Committee Chairman Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said after the vote. “But for the good of our democracy, the Senate must become more efficient.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander, (R-Tenn.), the top Republican on the Rules Committee, said the Senate needed to focus on more important matters “than on confirming hundreds of junior and part-time positions in any president’s administration.”