In the general nomination process, the president first submits a formal nomination to the Senate.
The Senate’s presiding officer refers that nomination to the relevant committee, where the
committee chair schedules a confirmation hearing. For the nomination to proceed, a majority of
the committee must then report the nomination to the floor. If a majority of senators vote to
confirm, the nominee then simply waits for a formal commission from the president. Historically,
a negative floor vote is the rarest way for a nomination to fail. More often, nominations are
defeated before they reach the Senate floor.
For either ideological reasons or time constraints,
committee chairs will often not schedule a confirmation hearing. When the formal congressional
session terminates, it takes any unconfirmed nominations with it.
If scheduled, the nominee could
also fail to receive a majority vote in the committee. This blocks the nomination from reaching
the full Senate, effectively killing the nomination. Finally, opponents of the nomination can
filibuster the nomination
. To overcome the filibuster, supporters of the nominee would need 60
votes to invoke cloture
. Without cloture, the nomination would fail
when the session ended.
The president has institutional advantages that may allow him to circumvent the Senate.