Rex Tillerson, Steven Mnuchin, Rick Perry and others nominated by President-elect Donald Trump for Cabinet roles will have to be approved by the Senate before they are appointed to the new administration.
All the secretaries and directors of U.S. departments need Senate confirmation, while advisory roles do not. Reince Priebus, Stephen Bannon and Michael Flynn -- Trump’s picks for chief of staff, chief strategist and national security adviser, respectively -- are among the appointees who don’t need further approval.
Senate confirmations of these executive roles require a simple majority, instead of the 60 votes needed to pass legislation. This differs from the confirmation of Supreme Court justices, which requires approval from at least 60 senators.
Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming confirmations of Cabinet members and other top roles:
How many appointments have to be confirmed by the Senate?
The Senate must confirm over 1,000 positions in the executive branch, but some will receive more attention than others. The most important positions to be confirmed are the Cabinet members, all of whom need Senate approval. Here are some of the nominees Trump has named who will need Senate confirmation:
Secretary of state: Rex Tillerson
Treasury secretary: Steven Mnuchin
Defense secretary: James Mattis
Attorney general: Jeff Sessions
Secretary of the Interior: Ryan Zinke
Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross
Labor secretary: Andrew Puzder
Secretary of Health and Human Services: Tom Price
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development: Ben Carson
Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao
Energy secretary: Rick Perry
Education secretary: Betsy DeVos
Secretary of homeland security: John Kelly
Director of National Intelligence: Dan Coats
CIA director: Mike Pompeo
U.S. Trade Representative: Robert Lighthizer
EPA administrator: Scott Pruitt
Administrator of the Small Business Administration: Linda McMahon
U.S. ambassador to the United Nations: Nikki Haley
What is the confirmation process?
After a nominee is selected, the individual must be cleared by the FBI. After the background investigation, the nomination is considered by the Senate. The nomination is first reviewed by a Senate committee, which can vote to send the nomination directly to the Senate floor for a vote or can hold hearings on the nomination.
Some committees hold hearings on all nominations, while others only hold hearings for some nominations.
After a committee reviews the nomination, it refers it to the full Senate favorably, unfavorably or without recommendation. A simple majority must be met in the committee to refer the nomination. The full Senate then votes on the nomination, and the nominee needs a simple majority to be appointed.
A committee can also vote to not refer the nomination to the full Senate, which will kill the nomination. In some cases, the full Senate can vote to move the nomination along without a referral from the committee.
Some nominations are able to bypass committee referral as a result of the Senate Resolution 116, which passed in 2011 to allow an expedited process for some positions.
When does the process take place?
The confirmation process began on Jan. 10, 2017 with a hearing for Sessions, Trump's pick for attorney general.
Here is the expected schedule so far:
Jan. 10-11, 9:30 a.m.: Jeff Sessions, attorney general
Jan. 10, 3:30 p.m.: John Kelly, director of homeland security
Jan. 11, 9 a.m.: Rex Tillerson, secretary of state
Jan. 11, 10:15 a.m.: Elaine Chao, secretary of transportation
Jan. 12, 9:30 a.m.: James Mattis, secretary of defense
Jan. 12, 10 a.m.: Mike Pompeo, CIA director
Jan. 12, 10 a.m.: Ben Carson, secretary of housing
Jan. 17, 5 p.m.: Betsy DeVos, secretary of education
Jan. 18, 10 a.m.: Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce
Will Trump’s picks be approved?
The Senate does not usually reject Cabinet nominations, but there has been some concern about Trump’s picks, including Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson for secretary of state. For the most part, however, it won't be difficult for the Senate to reach a simple majority to approve nominations, as Republicans hold the majority.
If the vote comes out to tie, Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s vote would be the tiebreaker.
How can I watch the hearings?
If you're interested in watching to the hearings, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, C-SPAN and other channels will be airing them. You can also find live streams at nytimes.com, time.com and other media outlets.