Federal Agency Transition Tracker

Date Stamp: January 19,  2017
Here you will find selected information about the President-elect’s federal agency picks of interest to the ecological community along with details about the nomination confirmation process.

Positions that require Senate Confirmation

All Cabinet-level officials, except the White House chief of staff, require Senate confirmation. The Cabinet includes the vice president and the heads of 15 executive departments — the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Attorney General.

The Trump transition team may need to appoint 4,100 positions to run the federal agencies daily operations. Over 1200, senior posts and agency heads require Senate confirmation. Basically, agency heads and assistant secretaries need Senate confirmations, but adviser positions and other federal agency appointees from the president do not.

What Does the Confirmation Process Entail?

1) A nomination is given to the relevant Senate committee. The Foreign Relations Committee, for example, handles the secretary of state position.

2) That committee can then hold hearings, vote to move the nomination straight to the Senate floor for a vote or not move on it at all (in which case, the committee effectually kills the nomination).

3) After hearings, the committee votes to report a nomination to the full Senate, requiring a simple majority. It may vote to report the nomination favorably, unfavorably or without recommendation. If a committee sits on an appointment, the full Senate may vote to invoke cloture and move the nomination along.

4) If a nomination clears committee, it moves to the Senate floor for a simple majority vote. Filibusters do not apply here because Democrats changed Senate rules three years ago to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for most nominations. However, Supreme Court picks are still subject to filibuster.

When Do Hearings Start?

Hearings could start as soon as the 115th Congress was sworn in Jan. 3, 2017. They began on Jan. 10, though some hearings have yet to be scheduled. A nominee may not be confirmed until after the president is sworn in on Jan. 20.

How Can You Watch the Hearings?

The confirmation hearings are broadcast live. You can find a link to watch them on the website for the specific Senate committee conducting the hearing, or this website shows the schedule of hearings with links to watch them live (click on the committee and the live feed should come up). You can also watch the hearings on C-Span, which will be covering them.

After the hearings have taken place, they will be available on the websites of the respective Senate committees.

Who in the cabinet is in line to succeed the president?

Article 2, Section 1, Clause 6, constitution of the United States: If the vice president cannot serve, the line of succession falls to the speaker of the House, then to the Senate president pro tempore, then to Cabinet members.

In order of succession to the Presidency:

Vice President of the United States
Mike Pence, Gov. IN

Department of State
state.gov
Nominee: Rex W. Tillerson, the president and CEO of Exxon Mobil
Senate Committee: Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: Jan. 11, with a follow-up hearing on the afternoon of Jan. 12. (as reported by Yahoo News, 1-3-2017)

(Other selected State positions requiring Senate Confirmation:  Director;Deputy Director; Assistant Secretary for Oceans & International Environmental & Scientific Affairs; U.S. Representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency)

Department of the Treasury
Secretary
treasury.gov
Nominee: Steve Mnuchin, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Dune Capital Management
Senate Committee: Committee on Finance
Nomination Hearing Date:

Department of Defense
Secretary
defense.gov
Nominee: Ret. General James Mattis
Senate Committee: Committee on Armed Services 
Nomination Hearing Date: January 12, 2017

Department of Justice
Attorney General
usdoj.gov
Nominee: Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Senate Committee: Committee on the Judiciary
Nomination Hearing Date: January 10-11, 2017

Department of the Interior
Secretary
doi.gov
Nominee: Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: January 17, 2017

(Other selected positions requiring Senate Confirmation: Assistant Secretary for Water & Science; Director of the U.S. Geological Survey)

(The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS or FWS), the United States Geological Service (USGS), and the National Park Service (NPS) are agencies within the U.S. Department of the Interior)

Department of Agriculture
Secretary
usda.gov
Nominee: Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia
Senate Committee:  Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
Nomination Hearing Date:

(Other selected positions requiring Senate Confirmation: Under Secretary for Research, Education, & Economics)

(The United States Forest Service (USFS) is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has oversight and legislative jurisdiction for the  USFS.)

Department of Commerce
Secretary
commerce.gov
Nominee: Wilbur Ross, distressed asset investor
Senate Committee: Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Nomination Hearing Date: January 18, 2017 (postponed from January 12th)

(Other selected positions requiring Senate Confirmation:  Asst. Sec. for Environmental Observation and Prediction, Asst. Sec. for Conservation and Management, Chief Scientist, Under Sec. for Oceans and Atmosphere/NOAA Administrator)

(The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an agency within the  Department of Commerce)

Department of Labor
Secretary
dol.gov
Nominee: Andrew Puzder, CEO CKE Restuarants, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.
Senate Committee: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Nomination Hearing Date: originally scheduled for the week of January 16th; postponed until February 2nd.

Department of Health and Human Services
Secretary
hhs.gov
Nominee: Rep. Tom Price, (R-GA)
Senate Committee: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Committee on Finance (which actually votes on the nomination)
Nomination Hearing Date: January 18, 2017 (HELP) and January 24, 2017 (Finance)

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Secretary
hud.gov
Nominee: Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon
Senate Committee: Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Nomination Hearing Date: January 12, 2017

Department of Transportation
Secretary
dot.gov
Nominee: Elaine Chao, former Secretary of Labor (2001-20019) under President George W. Bush
Senate Committee: Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Nomination Hearing Date: January 11, 2017

(Other selected positions requiring Senate Confirmation: Assistant Secretary for Research & Technology)

Department of Energy
Secretary
energy.gov
Nominee:  Rick Perry, former Texas Governor
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: January 19, 2017

(Other selected positions requiring Senate Confirmation:  Deputy Secretary, Under Secretary for Science & Energy; Director of the Office of Science; Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy; Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy; Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy; Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management; and Assistant Secretary for Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability)

(There are 21 Department of Energy labs and technology centers located across the US.)

Department of Education
Secretary
ed.gov
Nominee: Betsy DeVos, businesswoman, philanthropist, and education activist
Senate Committee: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Nomination Hearing Date: January 17, 2017 (moved from January 11th)

Department of Veterans Affairs
Secretary
va.gov
Nominee: David Shulkin (physician and current undersecretary of health at the Department of Veterans Affairs)
Senate Committee: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Nomination Hearing Date:

Department of Homeland Security
Secretary
dhs.gov
Nominee: Gen John F. Kelly
Senate Committee: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Nomination Hearing Date: January 11, 2017

The following positions have the status of Cabinet-rank:

White House Chief of Staff
Reince Priebus (Does not require Senate confirmation)

Environmental Protection Agency
Administrator
epa.gov
Nominee: Scott Pruitt, Attorney General, Oklahoma
Senate Committee: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: January 18, 2017

(Other selected positions requiring Senate confirmation: Assistant Administrator for Research & Development)

Office of Management & Budget
Director
whitehouse.gov/omb
Nominee: Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC)
Senate Committee: Committee on the Budget
Hearing Date: January 24, 2017

United States Trade Representative
Ambassador
ustr.gov
Nominee: Robert Lighthizer, past deputy trade representative during the Reagan administration and now is a partner at the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom
Senate Committee: Committee on Finance
Hearing Date:

United States Mission to the United Nations
Ambassador usun.state.gov
Nominee: Gov. Nikki Haley (SC)
Senate Committee: Committee on Foreign Relations
Hearing Date: January 18, 2017

Council of Economic Advisers
Chairman
whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cea

Small Business Administration
Administrator
sba.gov
Nominee: Linda McMahon, co-founder and former CEO of the professional wrestling franchise WWE

Other Selected Agencies of Interest to the Ecological Community

(These agency heads are not in the president’s cabinet.)

 National Science Foundation
nsf.gov

Director: France Cordova
Deputy Director:

Historically, the agency has been allowed substantial political independence. The director serves at the pleasure of the president and is appointed to a six-year term. France Cordova began her tenure in 2014 and could possibly serve until 2020. The director is subject to Senate confirmation. The National Science Board, NSF’s governing board is composed of 23 members (8 set to expire in 2018) who are appointed for six-year terms and do not require Senate confirmation.

Office of Science Technology and Policy
ostp.gov

Nominee:
Senate Committee: Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Hearing Date:

 Usually, the president’s science advisor is both the OSTP director and the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, a title that gives the advisor additional access to the president.

(Other selected positions requiring Senate confirmation: Director; Associate Director for Energy & Environment; Associate Director for National Security & International Affairs; Associate Director for Science; and Associate Director for Technology & Innovation)

NASA
Administrator
https://www.nasa.gov/
Nominee:
Senate Committee: Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

USAID
https://www.usaid.gov/
Administrator
Nominee:
Senate Committee: Committee on Foreign Relations