Federal Agency Transition Tracker

Date Stamp: August 2018

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.

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.

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
Secretary
state.gov
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:  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 – CONFIRMED (53 to 47 on Feb. 13)
Senate Committee: Committee on Finance
Nomination Hearing Date: January 19, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

Department of Defense
Secretary
defense.gov
Nominee: Ret. General James Mattis – CONFIRMED (98 to 1 on Jan. 20)
Senate Committee: Committee on Armed Services 
Nomination Hearing Date: January 12, 2017.
Watch the hearing here.

Department of Justice
Attorney General
usdoj.gov
Nominee: Jeff Sessions (R-AL) – CONFIRMED (52 to 47 on Feb. 8)
Senate Committee: Committee on the Judiciary
Nomination Hearing Date: January 10-11, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

Department of the Interior
Secretary
doi.gov
Nominee: Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) – CONFIRMED (68 to 31 on March 1)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: January 17, 2017
Watch the hearing here

Other Department of the Interior nominations:

Department of the Interior
Deputy Secretary
Nominee: David Bernhardt, lawyer who previously served as solicitor general under President George W. Bush – CONFIRMED (53 to 43 on July 24)
Senate Committee: Energy and Natural Resources
Watch the confirmation hearing here.

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

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

(Other selected positions requiring Senate Confirmation: Director, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Director, National Park Service, Director, Bureau of Land Management)

(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 – CONFIRMED (87 to 11 on April 24)
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.
Senate Committee:  Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
Nomination Hearing Date: July 24, 2018.
Watch the hearing here.

Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and Environment (oversees Agricultural Research Service, National Institute for Food and Agriculture and others)
Nominee: Scott Hutchins, global leader of integrated field sciences for Corteva Agriculture
Senate Committee:  Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
Nomination Hearing Date: no hearing currently scheduled.

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

Other relevant Department of Commerce nominations:

Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere (#2 post at 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: 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: Alexander Acosta, former Justice Department official and dean of the Florida International University law school. CONFIRMED (60 to 38 on April 27)
Senate Committee: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Nomination Hearing Date: Puzder’s hearing, originally scheduled for the week of January 16th, took place on February 2nd. Acosta’s hearing was March 22.
Watch the hearing here.

Department of Health and Human Services
Secretary
hhs.gov
Nominee: Alex Azar, former HHS general counsel and deputy secretary – CONFIRMED (55 to 43 on Jan. 24)
Senate Committee: Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and Committee on Finance (which actually votes on the nomination)
Nomination Hearing Date (Price): January 18, 2017 (HELP) and January 24, 2017 (Finance). Watch the hearings here and here.
Nomination Hearing Date (Azar): Nov. 29, 2017 (HELP) and Jan. 9, 2018 (Finance).
Watch the hearings here and here

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

Department of Transportation
Secretary
dot.gov
Nominee: Elaine Chao, former Secretary of Labor (2001-20019) under President George W. Bush – CONFIRMED (93 to 6 on Jan. 31)
Senate Committee: Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Nomination Hearing Date: January 11, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

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

Department of Energy
Secretary
energy.gov
Nominee:  Rick Perry, former Texas Governor – CONFIRMED (62 to 37 on March 2)
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: January 19, 2017
Watch the hearing here

Other relevant Department of Energy nominations:

Deputy Secretary of Energy
Nominee:  Dan R. Brouilette
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: May 25, 2017.

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
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources 
Nomination Hearing Date: June 26, 2018.

Director, Office of Science
Nominee:  Chris Fall, principal deputy director of DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E)
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
Senate Committee: Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Nomination Hearing Date: August 16, 2018.

(Other selected positions requiring Senate Confirmation: Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy)

(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 – CONFIRMED (51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the first-ever tie-breaking vote on a cabinet nomination, on Feb. 7)
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
Secretary
va.gov
Nominee: Robert Wilkie, current acting Veterans Affairs secretary – CONFIRMED (86-9, July 24)
Senate Committee: Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
Nomination Hearing Date: July 10
See the hearing transcript here.

Department of Homeland Security
Secretary
dhs.gov
Nominee: Kirstjen Nielsen, White House deputy chief of staff – CONFIRMED (62 to 37, Dec. 5)
Senate Committee: Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Nomination Hearing Date: November 8, 2017.
Watch the hearing  for Kirstjen Nielsen here.

The following positions have the status of Cabinet-rank:

White House Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff: Gen. John F. Kelly, former DHS Secretary (does not require senate confirmation)

Environmental Protection Agency
Administrator
epa.gov
Vacant. Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt resigned July 5, 2018.
Senate Committee: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Nomination Hearing Date:

Other relevant Environmental Protection Agency nominations:

Assistant Administrator
Nominee:  Andrew Wheeler – CONFIRMED (53-45 on April 12, 2018)
Senate Committee: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Nomination Hearing Date: November 8, 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)- CONFIRMED (51 to 49 on Feb. 16)
Senate Committee: Committee on the Budget
Hearing Date: January 24, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

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. CONFIRMED (82 to 14 on May 11)
Senate Committee: Committee on Finance
Hearing Date: March 14, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

United States Mission to the United Nations
Ambassador usun.state.gov
Nominee: Gov. Nikki Haley (SC) – CONFIRMED (96 to 4 on Jan. 24)
Senate Committee: Committee on Foreign Relations
Hearing Date: January 18, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

Council of Economic Advisers
Chairman
whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/cea
Nominee: Kevin Hassett, economist with the American Enterprise Institute – CONFIRMED (81 to 16 on Sept. 12)
Senate Committee: Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Hearing Date: June 6, 2017

Small Business Administration
Administrator
sba.gov
Nominee: Linda McMahon, co-founder and former CEO of the professional wrestling franchise WWE – CONFIRMED (81 to 19 on Feb. 14)
Senate Committee: Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Hearing Date: January 24, 2017
Watch the hearing here.

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

Council on Environmental Quality
https://www.whitehouse.gov/ceq/
Director
Nominee: Mary Neumayr, current CEQ chief of staff, former Capitol Hill energy staffer
Senate Committee: Committee on Environment and Public Works
Confirmation hearing: July 19, 2018

Office of Science Technology and Policy
ostp.gov
Nominee: Kelvin Drogemeier, Vice President for Research and Regents’ Professor of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma and as Oklahoma Cabinet Secretary of Science and Technology.
Senate Committee: Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Hearing Date: No hearing scheduled yet.

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
https://www.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)
https://www.nist.gov/
Director
Nominee: Walter Copan (president and CEO of the IP Engineering Group Corporation) – CONFIRMED (Oct. 5)
Senate Committee: Commerce, Science, and Transportation

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.

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