Federal Agency Nomination Tracker

Date Stamp: June 2020

Here you will find selected information about the President’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.

Around 1,200 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 the filibuster.

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).

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.

Active Nominations Relevant to Ecology

Environmental Protection Agency
Deputy Administrator
Nominee:
Douglas Benevento, EPA Associate Deputy Administrator and former Xcel Energy and Colorado environmental official.
Senate Committee: Environment and Public Works Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: March 11, 2020.
Watch the hearing here.

Department of Commerce 
Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere (Principal adviser on environmental and scientific activities in the Department, #1 Post at NOAA)
Nominee: Dr. Neil Andrew Jacobs, current Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction
Senate Committee: Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: March 11, 2020.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voted to advance Jacobs’ nomination May 20.
Watch the hearing here.

Department of Agriculture 
Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics (oversees Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and others)
Nominee: Scott Hutchins, former global leader of integrated field sciences of Corteva Agriculture
Senate Committee: Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
Nomination Hearing Date: November 28, 2018 
Watch the hearing here.
The Senate Agriculture Committee voted to advance Hutchins’ nomination by unanimous consent May 14, 2019.  Hutchins is currently serving as deputy undersecretary for research, education and economics in the USDA, a lower-ranked position that does not require Senate confirmation.

Department of Energy
Deputy Secretary of Energy
Nominee:
Mark Menezes, DOE Undersecretary, and former Berkshire Hathaway Energy lobbyist and House energy staffer.
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: May 20, 2020.
Watch the hearing here.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced Menezes’ nomination to the full Senate June 9, 2020.

National Science Foundation
Director
Nominee: Dr. Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, former member of the National Science Board and Executive Vice President, Arizona State University Executive Knowledge Enterprise Development  – CONFIRMED by unanimous consent June 18, 2020.

Senate Committee: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: N/A

In order of succession to the Presidency:

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

Department of State
state.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Mike Pompeo, former CIA director – CONFIRMED: 57-42 on April 26, 2018.
Senate Committee: Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: April 12, 2018
Watch the hearing here. 

(Other selected State positions requiring Senate Confirmation: Assistant Secretary for Oceans & International Environmental & Scientific Affairs)

Department of the Treasury
treasury.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Steve Mnuchin, chairman and co-chief executive officer of Dune Capital Management – CONFIRMED (53 to 47 on Feb. 13, 2017)
Senate Committee: Committee on Finance
Nomination Hearing Date: January 19, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

Department of Defense
defense.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Mark T. Esper, former lobbyist for Raytheon – CONFIRMED (90 to 8 on July 23, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Armed Services
Nomination Hearing Date: July 16, 2019
Watch the hearing here.

Department of Justice
usdoj.gov
Attorney General
Nominee: William P. Barr, attorney general during the George H.W. Bush administration – CONFIRMED (54 to 45 on Feb. 14, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on the Judiciary
Nomination Hearing Date: January 15, 2019.
Watch the hearing here.

Assistant Secretary Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division
Nominee: Jeffrey Clark, environmental lawyer representing industry – CONFIRMED (52-45 on Oct. 11, 2018)
Senate Committee: Committee on the Judiciary

Department of the Interior
doi.gov

Secretary
Nominee: David Bernhardt, lawyer who previously served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush – CONFIRMED (56 to 41 on April 11, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: March 28, 2019.
Watch the hearing here.

Deputy Secretary
Nominee: Katharine MacGregor, Interior deputy chief of staff
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Watch the November hearing here, and the February hearing here.
The Senate confirmed the nomination February 25, 2020, in a 58-38 vote.

Assistant Secretary for Water & Science
Nominee: Dr. Tim Petty – CONFIRMED (by voice vote on December 21, 2017)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: December 5, 2017
Watch the hearing here

Assistant Secretary, Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Nominee: Robert Wallace, former energy lobbyist and Capitol Hill staffer – CONFIRMED (by voice vote on June 28, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resource and Committee on Environment and Public Works
Nominations Hearing Date: June 4, 2019 (Committee on Environment and Public Works) & June 5, 2019 (Committee on Energy and Natural Resources)
Watch the hearings here and here.

Director, U.S. Geological Survey
Nominee: Dr. James Reilly – CONFIRMED (by voice vote April 9, 2018)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: February 15, 2018.
Watch the hearing here

Director, National Park Service
Nominee: David Vela, superintendent of Grand Teton National Park
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: November 15, 2018.
Watch the hearing here
(Note: Vela has not yet been renominated in the 116th Congress)

Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Nominee: Aurelia Skipwith, deputy undersecretary for fish, wildlife and parks – CONFIRMED (52-39 on December 11, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Environment and Public Works
Nomination Hearing Date: September 11, 2019
Watch the hearing here.

Director, Bureau of Land Management
Nominee: William Perry Pendley, current acting BLM director and former president of the Mountain States Legal Foundation
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: N/A

(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
usda.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Sonny Perdue, former governor of Georgia – CONFIRMED (87 to 11 on April 24, 2017)
Senate Committee:  Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
Nomination Hearing Date: March 23, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

Other relevant Department of Agriculture nominations:

Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment (oversees US Forest Service)
Nominee: James Hubbard, former Forest Service deputy chief for state and private forestry and Colorado state forester – CONFIRMED by voice vote.
Senate Committee:  Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
Nomination Hearing Date: July 24, 2018.
Watch the hearing here.

Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics (oversees Agricultural Research Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture and others)
Nominee: Scott Hutchins, former global leader of integrated field sciences of Corteva Agriculture
Senate Committee:Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry
Nomination Hearing Date: November 28, 2018
Watch the hearing here. 
The Senate Agriculture Committee voted to advance Hutchins’ nomination by unanimous consent May 14, 2019.  Hutchins is currently serving as deputy undersecretary for research, education and economics in the USDA, a lower-ranked position that does not require Senate confirmation.

Department of Commerce
commerce.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Wilbur Ross, distressed asset investor – CONFIRMED (72 to 27 on Feb. 27, 2017)
Senate Committee: Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Nomination Hearing Date: January 18, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

Other relevant Department of Commerce nominations:

Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere (Principal adviser on environmental and scientific activities in the Department, #1 Post at NOAA)
Nominee: Dr. Neil Andrew Jacobs, current Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction
Senate Committee: Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: March 11, 2020.
Watch the hearing here
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voted to advance Jacobs’ nomination May 20.

Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management/Deputy Administrator of NOAA
Nominee: RDML Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., USN Ret – CONFIRMED (by voice vote on Oct. 5, 2017)
Senate Committee: Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Nomination Hearing Date: September 27, 2017.

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction
Nominee: Dr. Neil Jacobs – CONFIRMED (by voice vote on Feb. 15, 2018)
Senate Committee: Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Nomination Hearing Date: November 1, 2017.

(Other selected positions requiring Senate Confirmation: Chief Scientist)

Department of Labor
dol.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Eugene Scalia – CONFIRMED (53-44 on September 26, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Nomination Hearing Date: September 19, 2019.

Department of Health and Human Services
hhs.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Alex Azar, former HHS general counsel and deputy secretary – CONFIRMED (55 to 43 on Jan. 24, 2018)
Senate Committee: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Committee on Finance (which actually votes on the nomination)
Nomination Hearing Date: Nov. 29, 2017 (HELP) and Jan. 9, 2018 (Finance).
Watch the hearings here and here

Department of Housing and Urban Development
hud.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Ben Carson, retired neurosurgeon – CONFIRMED (58 to 41 on March 2, 2017)
Senate Committee: Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Nomination Hearing Date: January 12, 2017
Watch the hearing here

Department of Transportation
dot.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Elaine Chao, former Secretary of Labor (2001-2009) under President George W. Bush – CONFIRMED (93 to 6 on Jan. 31, 2017)
Senate Committee: Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Nomination Hearing Date: January 11, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

Department of Energy
energy.gov
Secretary
Nominee:  Dan R. Brouilette – CONFIRMED (70 to 15 on December 2, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: November 14, 2019.
Watch the hearing here.

Other relevant Department of Energy nominations:

Deputy Secretary of Energy
Nominee:
Mark Menezes, DOE Undersecretary, and former Berkshire Hathaway Energy lobbyist and House energy staffer.
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: May 20, 2020
Watching confirmation hearing here.

Under Secretary for Science
Nominee:  Paul Dabbar – CONFIRMED (79 to 17 on August 3, 2017)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: July 20, 2017.

Assistant Secretary of Energy (Environmental Management)
Nominee:  Ann Marie White – CONFIRMED (by voice vote on March 22, 2018)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and Committee on Armed Services
Nomination Hearing Date: January 18, 2018 and March 1, 2018.

Assistant Secretary of Energy (Fossil Energy)
Nominee:  Steven Winberg – CONFIRMED (by voice vote on November 2, 2017)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 
Nomination Hearing Date: September 26, 2017.

Assistant Secretary of Energy (Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability)
Nominee:  Bruce J. Walker – CONFIRMED (by voice vote on October 5, 2017)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 
Nomination Hearing Date: September 26, 2017.

Assistant Secretary of Energy (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy)
Nominee:  Daniel Simmons, current principal deputy assistant secretary of energy efficiency and renewable energy — CONFIRMED (by voice vote on January 3, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: June 26, 2018.

Assistant Secretary of Energy (Nuclear Energy)
Nominee: Rita Baranwal,  director of Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative — CONFIRMED (by 86-5 on June 20, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: November 15, 2018

Director, Office of Science
Nominee:  Chris Fall, principal deputy director of DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) – CONFIRMED (by voice vote on May 23, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: June 26, 2018

Director, Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E)
Nominee:  S. Lane Genatowski, investment banker and managing partner at Dividend Income Advisers – CONFIRMED (by voice vote on June 27, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: August 16, 2018.

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

Department of Education
ed.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Betsy DeVos, businesswoman, philanthropist, and education activist – CONFIRMED (51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the first-ever tie-breaking vote on a cabinet nomination, on Feb. 7, 2017)
Senate Committee: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Nomination Hearing Date: January 17, 2017 (moved from January 11th)
Watch the hearing here.

Department of Veterans Affairs
va.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Robert Wilkie, current acting Veterans Affairs secretary – CONFIRMED (86-9, July 24, 2018)
Senate Committee: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Nomination Hearing Date: July 10, 2018.
See the hearing transcript here.

Department of Homeland Security
dhs.gov
Secretary
Nominee: Vacant.
Senate Committee: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Nomination Hearing Date: N/A

The following positions have the status of Cabinet-rank:

White House Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff: Mark Meadows, former Congressman from North Carolina

Environmental Protection Agency
epa.gov
Administrator
Nominee: Andrew Wheeler, EPA assistant administrator & acting administrator – CONFIRMED (52 to 47, Feb. 28, 2019)
Senate Committee: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: January 16, 2019.
Watch the hearing here.

Deputy Administrator
Nominee:
Douglas Benevento, EPA Associate Deputy Administrator and former Xcel Energy and Colorado environmental official.
Senate Committee: Environment and Public Works Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: March 11, 2020.
Watch the hearing here.

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

Office of Management & Budget
whitehouse.gov/omb

Director
Nominee: Russ Vought, who had been Acting Director of OMB since January 2019.
Senate Committee: Committee on the Budget and Committee on Homeland and Government Affairs
Hearing Date: June 2, 2020 and June 3, 2020
Watch the hearings here and here.
Both committees voted to advance Vought’s nomination the week of June 8, 2020.

United States Trade Representative
ustr.gov
Ambassador
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. CONFIRMED (82 to 14 on May 11, 2017)
Senate Committee: Committee on Finance
Hearing Date: March 14, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

United States Mission to the United Nations
usun.state.gov
Ambassador
Nominee: Kelly Knight Craft, Ambassador to Canada – CONFIRMED (56 to 34 on July 31, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Foreign Relations
Hearing Date: June 19, 2019
Watch the hearing here.

Council of Economic Advisers
whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cea
Chairman
Nominee: Vacant.
Senate Committee: Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Hearing Date: N/A

Small Business Administration
sba.gov
Administrator
Nominee: Jovita Carranza, Treasurer of the United States – CONFIRMED (88 to 5 on Jan. 7, 2020)
Senate Committee: Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Hearing Date: December 11, 2019
Watch the hearing here.

The following positions are in the Executive Office of the President:

Council on Environmental Quality
whitehouse.gov/ceq
Director
Nominee: Mary Neumayr, CEQ chief of staff, former Capitol Hill energy staffer – CONFIRMED (by voice vote January 2, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Environment and Public Works
Confirmation hearing: July 19, 2018
Watch the hearing here

Office of Science Technology and Policy
ostp.gov
Director
Nominee: Kelvin Drogemeier, Vice President for Research and Regents’ Professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Cabinet Secretary of Science and Technology – CONFIRMED (by voice vote January 2, 2019)
Senate Committee: Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Hearing Date: August 23, 2018
Watch the hearing here

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: Associate Director for Energy & Environment; Associate Director for National Security & International Affairs; Associate Director for Science; and Associate Director for Technology & Innovation)

Other Selected Agencies of Interest to the Ecological Community:

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

NASA
nasa.gov
Administrator
Nominee: Jim Bridenstine, former congressman from Oklahoma – CONFIRMED (50-49 on April 19, 2018)
Senate Committee: Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
nist.gov
Director
Nominee: Walter Copan, president and CEO of the IP Engineering Group Corporation – CONFIRMED (Oct. 5, 2017)
Senate Committee: Commerce, Science, and Transportation

National Science Foundation
nsf.gov
Director
Nominee: Dr. Sethuraman “Panch” Panchanathan, former member of the National Science Board and Executive Vice President, Arizona State University Executive Knowledge Enterprise Development.
Senate Committee: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: N/A
Dr. France Cordova’s six-year term ended March 31, 2020. Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, is serving as Acting Director until the full Senate confirms Panchanathan. The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted to approve Panchanathan’s nomination June 3, 2020.

Deputy Director
Nominee: Vacant.
Senate Committee: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: N/A

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 served until March 31, 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.

USAID
usaid.gov
Administrator
Nominee: Mark Green, former U.S. ambassador to Tanzania and president of the International Republican Institute – CONFIRMED (Aug. 3, 2017)
Senate Committee: Committee on Foreign Relations 
Hearing Date: June 15, 2017