The Politics of Requesting Appointments: Congressional Requests in the Appointment and Nomination Process

By Rottinghaus, Brandon; Bergan, Daniel E. | Political Research Quarterly, March 2011 | Go to article overview

The Politics of Requesting Appointments: Congressional Requests in the Appointment and Nomination Process


Rottinghaus, Brandon, Bergan, Daniel E., Political Research Quarterly


Abstract

There is persistent debate about who most influences the federal appointment process, especially whether the executive branch staffs the federal bureaucracy with individuals loyal to the White House or relies on the process as an accommodation to important political players, especially members of Congress. Yet, people still know little about the role members of Congress play in the process of shaping the prenomination environment. In this article, the authors address this debate by using unique archival data from the Dwight Eisenhower and Gerald Ford Presidential Libraries to identify which legislators contacted the president about a specific nomination or appointment request and under what conditions these requests were successful. The authors find that legislator resources, Senate membership, and those closer ideologically to the president are related both to the number of requests made and to the number of successful appointment or nomination requests granted. The results suggest that the president relies on members of Congress for credible information about staffing administrative positions, but they appoint or nominate individuals that are in their own interest, not necessarily to accommodate Congress.

Keywords

presidential-legislative relations, appointment, Gerald Ford, Dwight Eisenhower

The president's appointment power is outlined in the "appointments clause" of Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution, where the president nominates individuals to several offices with the "advice and consent" of the Senate. This creates a "diffused responsibility" of administrative governance because the powers are shared (Jones 1994, 24). As with many aspects of shared governance, this institutional arrangement provides a distribution of power between two branches but also encourages conflict. Corwin's (1957) description of the separated powers as an "invitation to struggle" has framed scholars' thinking about the interaction between the presidency and Congress and conditions "that great game" where the two sides engage in collective bargaining to advance their policy agendas (Neustadt 1990, 32). Weingast (2005, 336) argues that the bureaucracy is "caught in the middle" of a complex political tug of war between Congress and the president. As a result of this struggle, especially in times of divided government, when traditional legislation is more difficult to pass, presidents have turned to the "administrative presidency" to organize the bureaucracy in their favor (Weko 1995; Moe 1999) and to attempt to conduct policy outside of the purview of the Congress, the media, and the public (Nathan 1983; Walcott and Hult 1987).

So how do presidents staff the bureaucracy? The politics of presidential appointments has often been viewed as a trade-off between the accommodation to political party (the interests of members of Congress) or as an extension of presidential policy objectives. On one hand, a president may staff the executive with individuals who are loyal to the president's party, thereby pleasing the president's core supporters. This view was prevalent in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries because of the role of patronage for party loyalists (Nokken and Sala 2000; see also Skowronek 1982; Johnson and Libecap 1994). In this vein, presidents use appointments to help build (and hold) coalitions together within Congress and within their party.1 On the other hand, presidents may ignore their party and staff the executive with loyalists to their own ideological or policy goals. This perspective suggests that presidents attempt to "politicize" or "presidentialize" the bureaucracy to their own ends (Nathan 1983; Moe 1985; Moe and Wilson 1994; Lewis 2008). Waterman (1989) labels this "responsive competence" (as opposed to "neutral competence," whereby the most qualified, policy-substantive person is found for the job). Evidence from independent regulatory commissions suggests that this perspective has some weight (Moe 1982). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Politics of Requesting Appointments: Congressional Requests in the Appointment and Nomination Process
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.