Senate confirmation process question

How do you find out which Senators voted to confirm someone? I’m curious to know who voted for the recently-resigned director of FEMA. If in fact he is proved to be at fault for the New Orleans debacle, I want to know who voted for someone who was unqualified for the job. I’m willing to bet that Senators from both side voted for him.

According to the Lansing (MI) State Journal Brown was confirmed by voice vote so there is no record of yeas and nays.

And if you read the article closely, you’ll notice that the voice vote was only for his nomination to be DEPUTY Director of FEMA. He was never even voted on when he became the full director. Aparently, in the shuffle that put FEMA in the Department of Homeland Security, the usual confirmation requirements were either waived or overlooked.

If you’re interested in a broader list of past and present executive and judicial nominations, you can check out the Senate nominations page.

The Senate website offers a record of recent votes.

I have my doubts Brown really was Director of FEMA, although that was the title used.

About two months before the prior FEMA director was to resigned, Bush nominated Brown as the first “Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response”.

Emergency Preparedness and Response was apparently a main subdivision within the law that established the Homeland Security department. All the other
main subdivisions were either a collectoion of federal departments or was to retain
the name of the single agency. FEMA was different, the department was named that EP and R, but the only organization was FEMA itself. I’m not aware Brown was ever actually confirmed as Under Secretary, but perhaps that wasn’t required.

According to Time Magazine, dated 9/19/05, page 21, he was moved out of his position "less than 24 hours after reported he had padded his resume. One instance: in 2002, when he was nominated as FEMA’s deputy director, documents Brown submitted for his Senate confirmation hearing–which lasted all of 42 minutes–led Connecticut’s Joseph Lieberman to cite the nominee’s ‘useful experience as assistant city manager in Edmond [Okla.], with responsibility for police, fire and emergency services.’ But according to Brown’s former boss, then city manager Bill Dashner, as well as current Edmond officials, that job description was overblown.

"‘He was my administrative assistant,’ Dashner says. ‘Every now and again, I’d ask him to write me a speech.’…

“At a press conference last week, Chertoff wouldn’t let Brown field questions about the report…”

So he was confirmed by the Senate in 2002 as FEMA’s deputy director. It doesn’t specify what committee or what group approved him, except for mentioning Lieberman. There may be more at

I don’t know anything else about how appointments are confirmed by Congress, and I (now) wonder how many are rubber-stamped.

For positions that don’t seem to be especially important, like the Secretary of Veterans Affairs or the HUD Secretary, I’m sure that most of them are rubber-stamped unless there’s some special reason to oppose a certain nominee.

My aunt was part of FEMA under the Clinton administration, I’m not sure if it was Assistant Director or Deputy Director. Anyway, she had to go through the process of confirmation. I don’t know if they had a regular vote on her or a voice vote.

Committees don’t confirm people. The Senate confirms people. A Senate Committee will typically hold a hearing and then vote the nomination out of the committee, but you’re not confirmed until the whole Senate votes to do so.

Most politicals are rubber stamped, as they should be. First, it’s traditionally thought of as the president’s prerogative to to put in his own team to achieve the policy goals the populace elected him for. (Yes, I recognize that in Bush’s first term one could make a counterargument, but no one did. Well, I did, but the Post never printed my letter to the editor. ;)) Second, there are several hundred political appointees in the federal system (maybe more). If the Senate tried to do a searching inquiry into every minor functionary, it’d never have time for anything else. Heads of departments get serious scrutiny, as do judges (because they have lifetime appointments, and also because unlike political appointees, they have the power to overrule the will of Congress in some circumstances). Other than that, the staff certainly does research, as does the FBI, but unless someone brings objections to the table, it’s largely a pro forma process.


Most presidential appointments, political or otherwise, are rubber stamped. During WWII a class of Aviation Cadets graduated every month, and I suppose the same thing was true in OCS. So every month Congress passed an omnibus bill approving all these Presidential appointments (commissions to 2nd Lt.) without any hearings at all.

It sounds as if they don’t have a staff member check the resumes, let alone the FBI, and let alone the nominating party(ies) from the Administration.