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Senate Confirmation Process Goes 'Nuclear,' but Some Burdens Remain | Commentary

A White House working group (to which Robert Rizzi contributed) recommended a series of reforms which would ease the burden on those seeking to serve their country, including building an electronic system with a smart form, creating a “common set of core questions,” reducing the duplication between the SF-86 (the Questionnaire for National Security Positions) and OGE Form 278, and eliminating the White House Personal Data Statement. A new electronic “smart form” is being tested by the Office of Government Ethics as well.

It remains to be seen how this new era of confirmations will influence the selection and vetting processes. One thing is near certain, however, given that a 60-vote threshold is still required for cloture for all legislative matters: Expect the Senate to take up a significantly large workload of confirmations. Whether or not an appointee is subject to Senate confirmation, he or she will be well-served by learning about the process and taking steps to ensure a smooth appointment or confirmation.

Robert Rizzi is partner at Steptoe & Johnson and has counseled individuals nominated or appointed to executive and judicial branch positions in both Democratic and Republican administrations. Jason Abel is of counsel at Steptoe & Johnson and former chief counsel of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.

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