CRS report on statutory qualifications for Executive Branch positions

Of the 556 key senior level positions requiring Senate confirmation, the Trump administration has no nominee yet for 465 positions according to the Washington Post’s appointments tracker. See Tracking how many key positions Trump has filled so far, an interactive database-driven tool for monitoring key appointments. (Of course there are many more less senior level positions still unfilled as well.)

Nominees for many of the unfilled senior level positions must meet qualifications mandated by Congress. “The preponderance of evidence and historical practice suggests that Congress generally has the constitutional authority to establish statutory qualifications for federal government positions.” Quoting from the conclusion of the CRS report, Statutory Qualifications for Executive Branch Positions (Sept. 9, 2015, RL33886). The report adds

Although Congress enjoys broad discretion in this area, there appears to be consensus that it may not set qualifications that limit the President’s selection to the extent that the appointment is a de facto legislative designation. Neither case law nor statute has established a bright line that clearly defines the boundaries of this authority. Within this somewhat ambiguous environment, Congress, at times, has enacted standards that limit the President’s selection pool to a greater extent than the executive branch sees as legitimate.

This CRS report provides examples of department and agency leadership positions with statutory qualification requirements and similar examples for independent collegial bodies, such as regulatory boards and commissions. At the other end of the spectrum, see the GAO’s Characteristics of Presidential Appointments that do not Require Senate Confirmation (GAO-13-299R, Mar 1, 2013). — Joe

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