Presidential Appointments, the Senate's Confirmation Process, and Changes Made in the 112th Congress [October 9, 2012] [open pdf - 369KB]
"The responsibility for populating top positions in the executive and judicial branches of government is one the Senate and the President share. The President nominates an individual, the Senate may confirm him, and the President would then present him with a signed commission. The Constitution divided the responsibility for choosing those who would run the federal government by granting the President the power of appointment and the Senate the power of advice and consent. [...] During the 112th Congress, a bipartisan group of Senators crafted two measures they contend will make the appointment process easier and quicker. Both measures were adopted. P.L. 112-166, the Presidential Appointment Efficiency and Streamlining Act of 2011, removed the requirement for Senate confirmation for appointees to 163 positions, authorizing the President alone to appoint certain officials. [...] P.L. 112-166 contains two major provisions. The first eliminated the requirement for the Senate's advice and consent on nominations to 163 positions in the executive branch. [...] The second major provision of P.L. 112-166 established a working group to examine the appointments process. The working group is required to write two reports that are expected to generate a number of recommendations. [...] S.Res. 116, a resolution 'to provide for expedited Senate consideration of certain nominations subject to advice and consent,' established a potentially faster Senate confirmation process for nominees to an additional 272 positions. On June 29, 2011, the Senate agreed to an amended version of S.Res. 116, by a vote of 89-8."
CRS Report for Congress, R41872