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If I understand correctly, the United States' process of presidential nominations and appointments to positions which require the Senate's confirmation (advice and consent) is as follows:

  1. The president makes a nomination (specifying the nominee and the position) and sends it to the Senate.
  2. The Senate then votes whether to confirm the nominee or not (whether to "advise and consent" to such nomination/appointment).
  3. Only after the Senate votes to confirm the nominee, the president may officially appoint him/her.

There is thus some time between the confirmation by the Senate and the final appointment by the president. Now suppose that during it, some serious information about the nominee comes to light which would make him/her unacceptable.

  1. Can the Senate vote to withdraw or revoke its confirmation of the nominee (so that the president could not appoint the nominee unless nominated and confirmed again)?
  2. Can the president withdraw or revoke the nomination (to officially ensure that the nominee could not be appointed unless nominated and confirmed again), even if the Senate has already voted to confirm it?
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    Keep in mind that for some appointments- specifically cabinet secretaries and ambassadors and similar officers of the executive branch- question 2 is moot for practical purposes because the president can dismiss them at anytime. Not so for judges and justices
    – Damila
    Jul 2, 2022 at 2:03

1 Answer 1

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Only after the Senate votes to confirm the nominee, the president may officially appoint him/her.

No. Once nominated, and confirmed, the nominee is entitled to be sworn in without further Presidential or Senate action.

Can the Senate vote to withdraw or revoke its confirmation of the nominee (so that the president could not appoint the nominee unless nominated and confirmed again)?

No.

Can the president withdraw or revoke the nomination (to officially ensure that the nominee could not be appointed unless nominated and confirmed again), even if the Senate has already voted to confirm it?

No. The President can fire many, but not all, Presidential appointees, however.

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  • Please, do you have any sources for the first answer? IIUC, presidential appointments are made by issuing a commission, and for example, 5 USC § 2901 says that "The President may ... make out and deliver the commission of an officer whose appointment has been confirmed by the Senate". It seems to me that "may" implies that the president is not obligated to make the commission if he no longer wants to appoint the nominee, despite his confirmation.
    – n00p
    Jul 2, 2022 at 3:11
  • Also, this says that "The power to commission officers, as applied in practice, does not mean that the President is under constitutional obligation to commission those whose appointments have reached that stage, but merely that it is he and no one else who has the power to commission them, and that he may do so at his discretion."
    – n00p
    Jul 2, 2022 at 3:46
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    "without further Presidential or Senate action": this is incorrect. The president appoints or commissions the confirmed nominee as a separate act after confirmation. What forces this to happen?
    – phoog
    Jul 2, 2022 at 7:22

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