- The President’s Cabinet -
January 28, 2009


Q: What is the Senate's role in Presidential cabinet nominations?

A: Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that the President's power to appoint individuals to high government office can only be exercised with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. While I generally defer to the President's prerogative to chose individuals for his cabinet whose views and personalities he prefers, it is my duty as a Senator to make sure the cabinet nominee is qualified and able to fulfill all duties of the job. Senate confirmation hearings should be the toughest job interviews in the nation because of the large amount of responsibility and power held by these unelected public officials. I take my responsibility in the confirmation process of cabinet members seriously. As Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said almost a century ago, sunlight is the best disinfectant. Making sure that the confirmation process for cabinet members is transparent is fundamental to accountability and confidence in our system of government. I will continue to ask relevant questions during nomination hearings on behalf of good government. As always, I encourage Iowans to share their opinions with me about cabinet nominees or any other issue by calling my offices in Washington and Iowa or visiting

Q: How many Iowans have served in Presidential cabinets?

A: Sixteen Iowans have served in Presidential cabinets, including Iowa's only President: Herbert Hoover. Hoover was Secretary of Commerce for Presidents Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge. Former Iowa Governor and new Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack is the latest Iowan to be included in the cabinet of the President of the United States.

Q: What is the process the Senate uses to confirm cabinet nominees?

A: The Senate has 18 legislative committees that have jurisdiction over certain areas of government. Cabinet nominations are considered by the committee or committees that are responsible for the issues handled by the government department that each nominee has been selected to lead. I'm Ranking Member of the Finance Committee and also a member of the Agriculture, Budget, and Judiciary committees, so I'm involved in the Senate committee confirmation process for the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Treasury, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Attorney General, and the U.S. Trade Representative. Committee hearings allow committee members to ask questions of individual cabinet nominees and voice concerns for the public record. The information that comes out during committee consideration of nominees helps inform the votes of committee members and, then of all 100 senators once the committee reports the nomination to the full Senate for its consideration of the nomination.


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