Advice and consent: Senate responses to executive branch nominations 1885-1996

Nolan McCarty, Rose Razaghian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

152 Scopus citations


The fact that presidential nominations to executive branch positions are routinely approved by the Senate obscures great variance in the length of time that the confirmation process requires. Nominees can expect to wait anywhere from a few days to several months to learn their fates. We argue that long delays are made possible by Senate procedures that allow and encourage partisan and ideological opponents of the nomination to engage in dilatory tactics. Based on more than 3500 executive branch nominations from 1885-1996, we find substantial evidence for our hypotheses. In particular, we find that confirmations take substantially longer not only in periods of divided government but also in periods in which the Senate is ideologically polarized. Finally, we discuss the likely impact of these delays on the president's appointment decisions and his ability to lead the bureaucracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1122-1143
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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