The Trump administration has hired and fired more people at this point in a presidential term than any other administration in modern times. We have seen Trump’s anger directed against his secretaries of State, Homeland Security, Interior, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, an attorney general and a garden variety of lesser appointees. What do these officials — all of whom have been removed or resigned from office — have in common? They were nominated by Trump, but have been confirmed by the United States Senate.
The Constitution in Article II, Section 2 gives the president the power to nominate leaders of the executive branch but before they take office with few exceptions, they must be approved “by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate.” This Advice and Consent clause is an important aspect of our checks and balances between the three branches of our federal government that serve to safeguard for our democracy.
To say this constitutional provision is not taken sufficiently serious by the Senate is an understatement. If the public is repelled by some of Trump’s appointments, they should question their own senators to determine if they have voted to confirm them.
It’s important that voters hold senators accountable. The Senate confirmation process has become nothing more than a rubber stamp, but one with a sharp partisan edge. Whoever occupies the White House looks to his/her allies in the Senate to support their nominees regardless of qualification. When the only standard is tribalism, it’s no wonder that a number of unqualified people slip through the confirmation process. This is true for all appointments including those to the judiciary. But court appointments are for life unless there are grounds for impeachment of the judge.
Senators should end their confirmation rubber-stamping of presidential nominees and start making their own qualitative evaluations. If they don’t, they run the risk of becoming constitutional bystanders unable to fulfill their responsibilities under the Constitution and, in doing so, they cede more power to the president — a dangerous derogation of responsibility.
The next time you hear about a high executive branch official being criticized by the president, making serious mistakes, forced to resign for corrupt behavior, violating the law, playing special interest favorites or simply being unqualified, know they got to their public perch thanks to the U.S. Senate.
Tom Coleman represented Missouri as a Republican in the United States House from 1976-1993. He has taught as an adjunct professor at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and at American University in Washington, D.C.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.