What if the senate refuses to confirm Hillary's cabinet?

Since at least one senator has announced that a Republican senate will not confirm any supreme court appointment made by a President Clinton, what is to stop them from deciding not to approve and cabinet nomination. This would be a real consitutional crisis and I see no way to resolve.

The basic “crime” for which Andrew Johnson was impeached was firing a cabinet secretary without the senate’s approval despite a probably unconstitutional law passed over his veto that forbade that. A HS history teacher I had speculated that had Johnson been convicted, the US might have evolved to a kind of parliamentary system. I think he was wrong. It is easier to get a simple majority of the House to impeach than to get 2/3 of the senate to convict. Still if the Republicans decide to do everything possible to destroy her term in office it could get even uglier than it is now.

The deputy secretaries don’t require Senate confirmation, right? If that’s correct then I suppose she could just hire her choices as deputies and since there’s no Secretary of the Department, her choices would be in charge.

Wrong. Deputy, Under, and Assistant Secretaries (and many other positions) require Senate confirmation. It is estimated that there are 1,200-1,400 such positions.

If, as Trump keeps stating, Clinton is just another 4 years of Obama; could she just leave the current cabinet members in place to avoid the confirmation mess?

yes I think she can leave them all in place. they are not required to quit in January . When the white house changes parties they normally quit as part of tradition.

Once a Cabinet member is confirmed by the Senate, they hold the position until they are dismissed by the President (regardless of who the President actually is.) As I understand it, after every Presidential election, it’s traditional for all of the postholders to offer a resignation letter that the incoming President (even if it’s the same one who just got re-elected) can choose to accept or decline. Obviously if there’s a President of a different party then they’ll mostly all get dismissed. But they don’t have to - for instance, President Obama kept Robert Gates in his post as Secretary of Defense in 2009 when he assumed the office.

I’m not actually sure how many of Reagan’s appointees went on to serve under George H.W. Bush, but there were probably a few. If there’s a Republican controlled Senate and Clinton wins, I expect she’d probably keep quite a few of the current Cabinet in their places until she could confirm she would be able to seat new ones.

Not impossible. It takes fewer votes to impeach and convict the President than override her veto. Potentially, every veto override could be a vote of no confidence leading to a new administration.


Of the ones in the Cabinet proper, only two: Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady, and Attorney General Dick Thornburgh.

I could be wrong but I think that public opinion is potentially shifting against the republican party. How much is hard to say but if it gets to the point where obstruction is so partisan that people perceive government not functioning, then I think you’ll see consequences in 2018.

It’s pretty clear that the law, the Tenure of Office Act, was unconstitutional.

Some 60 years later, the Supreme Court held that a very similar law was unconstitutional, because it was an intrusion by Congress into the President’s executive powers to choose officials in the executive branch. The Court said in obiter that the Tenure of Office Act (by then repealed) was similarly unconstitutional.

I’d like to think - maybe I’m unrealistic - that the congressional republican party has a substantial majority of members who are dismayed that Trump could get the party nomination, will not be surprised when he loses the election and will reckon the the Republican movement has brought this on itself. In such a mood, I think they won’t be minded to react to the Democratic victory in the presidential election in such a petulant and, frankly, Trumpian way as the OP fears. Acting like a bunch of over-tired toddlers who’ve had too much sugar is what has brought the Republican party to its present fairly dismal pass, and there are plenty of people within the party who can see that. The way back to political credibility, respectability and even electability is definitely not more of the same.

I have a feeling that she will have an eye to the 2018 elections and even her not-so-distant re-election campaign that she will want to try and capitalize on the intellectual Republican support she has received and appoint a Republican or two to certain non-economic policy cabinet positions such as SecDef or Secretary of Homeland Security.

Question: if the President moves a Cabinet member to a different brief (say, from State to Defense), does this require Senate approval? Or does the President have full freedom to put them wherever they wish, once the Senate has consented to their appointment to the Cabinet?

Learn something new everyday - it looks like the Senate changed their rules in 2013 when Democrats still had a majority so that filibusters were no longer allowed for executive branch nominees and judicial nominees other than the Supreme Court. Should the Republicans retain the Senate, they could always change this rule, but the fact that they have not done so already since the new Congress started in 2015 indicates that they are probably not willing to go that far (above and beyond that their hope was that it wouldn’t be needed due to a Republican presidential victory).

Yes. In 1997, for example, Federico Peña had to be reconfirmed when he was moved from Transportation to Energy.

It’s pretty rare too. It looks like someone has only had back-to-back Cabinet posts twice in the last 30 years, and only one of them (Mr. Peña) had both of them under one president. It’s not like in a parliamentary system where a junior member of the cabinet will move up to more prestigious departments. (Someone with actual political ambition would normally not accept such a dead-end job. Hillary Clinton is the first former cabinet secretary nominated for the presidency since 1928.)

Trump could still win. And Trump became the nominee against the teeth of some determined GOP Establishment opposition.

I suspect the lesson is that to win the GOP has to act more Trumpian not less.

FDR had been Assistant Secretary for the Navy, so that wasn’t a dead-end job for him.

This is true but only relevant if the Democrats have a majority in the chamber. If the Republicans control it, then they could simply refuse to bring any nominees up for a vote (this is not a filibuster), or could allow votes but all stay as a bloc to refuse to confirm any nominee. The first option - refusing to allow votes - is more likely if the leadership wants to pursue a policy of total obstruction, because there are a couple of Republican Senators who might refuse to blockade all nominees.

I think the proper course for Clinton will be to retain as many people as possible, then petition the Supremes that the Senate has refused to perform its Constitutionally Required function, and appeal for the current nominee to be accepted to the bench. If SOTUS agrees, to whom would the Republican leaders of the Senate then appeal?

The archaic privilege of any Senator blackballing a candidate for appointed office from his state also has to end. Every such candidate should be allowed an up or down vote within 90 days. In other words, such rules the Senate has established that are blatantly undemocratic should be reviewed and scrapped.

Of course, step by step, the Dems need to take the Senate in November, and complete the takeover of the House in 2018.

All this assumes we aren’t still, in 2018, fighting house to house across Washington DC to wipe out the last of the Trump Rebels.

Not even a real concern. If Hillary is elected she will get whatever she wants. Most of the GOP are RINOs anyway and just put on a show for their voters. And pretty much every president gets what they want, if they really want it. The only 2 big exceptions I can think of is health care under Bill Clinton and immigration reform under different presidents.