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Say that the president of the United States nominates a person to a position and Congress chooses not to confirm them. Is it possible (though I imagine politically unwise) for the president to re-nominate them in order to force the issue?

President: I nominate John Doe.

Congress: We reject your nomination.

President: Well, as my next choice, I nominate John Doe.

Congress: Uhh, well we reject your nomination again.

President: Then I nominate John Doe again. Look, I’ll keep doing this until you approve my choice. Do you want the position filled or not?

Congress: …Fine, we approve your nomination.

Could this theoretically happen? Or is there some rule that a person rejected cannot be re-nominated?

  • I’m not sure if I have the right terminology with “nominate” and “reject” (or is it “appoint” and “confirm”?). If I have it wrong, I would appreciate being corrected. – Thunderforge Sep 26 '17 at 13:07
  • The Senate rarely rejects anyone. Instead the Senate does not move on a nomination and the President withdraws the nomination. The President is free to renominate the same person, but unless there is significant turnover in the Senate there is no good reason to do that. – emory Sep 26 '17 at 19:11
  • The problem here is with your last line. IMHO, Congress is more likely to say "No, we reject your nominee again. Shall we get down to business, or shall we discuss impeachment?" – jamesqf Sep 27 '17 at 4:39
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    FWIW, something like this was a plot point in Season 3 of the Netflix series House of Cards. But that's television; in real life it's unlikely POTUS would try this (unless, maybe, an election changed the balance of the Senate in the meantime). – Royal Canadian Bandit Sep 27 '17 at 8:29
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Theoretically, sure, but after the first rejection I would strongly doubt the nominee would get another hearing before Congress. All the Senate would have to do is ignore the President because, ultimately, it would be the administration that would suffer since whatever post that the nomination was for would go unfilled. Much of the law surrounding who has what authority within the executive branch is tied to those nominating positions, and an acting-department head does not have the same authority to advance the President's agenda as a confirmed department head.

Such an exchange may also make a President appear pretty feckless to voters. For instance, you may get to line 4 of your hypothetical dialogue, but it would be Congress responding to media questions rather than to the President directly because from their point of view they have performed their duty. The President would have very little leverage to force the issue (limited mostly to yelling at them through the press), since the Senate's advice and consent is required by the Constitution.

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    So there is no explicit rule preventing this? Just the political pressure? – Thunderforge Sep 26 '17 at 13:43
  • @Thunderforge I don't believe there is, no. I have been proven wrong plenty of times before, so I leave that possibility open. – Jeff Lambert Sep 26 '17 at 13:50

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