@NCCapitol

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Today@NCCapitol (Jan. 31, 2017): Senate sets up gauntlet for gubernatorial nominees

Posted January 31

Senate debate

— Senators are beginning to fire up the process they plan to use when confirming or rejecting Gov. Roy Cooper's cabinet appointees.

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger appointed the Select Committee on Nominations on Monday, and chamber leaders announced the 15-member panel's first meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday.

"We will just go over ... and have a discussion of how we will go through the committee, what we will be asking and not asking – just the general groundwork and rules," said committee Chairman Bill Rabon, R-Brunswick.

No confirmation hearings are expected during the first hearing.

Rabon did say that the committee would likely be the first of two stops for most nominees.

After getting an initial nod from the select committee, nominees would then go before the standing committee with subject-matter jurisdiction of their department. So, for example, the nominee for Health and Human Services would likely visit both the Nominations Committee and make a second stop at the Senate Health Committee before getting a vote on the floor.

"The committee has not seen or discussed that, but yes, that is our plan," Rabon said. "Our plan is for the name to come to the select committee, for the select committee to look through the credentials and then pass that along to the standing committee that deals with that subject area."

This will be the first time in decades that the Senate has exercised this kind of oversight on cabinet appointments, and Cooper, a Democrat, is challenging the process set up by a law passed in late December.

At a news conference last week, Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue said he had discussed the confirmation process with his Republicans colleagues and didn't have initial objections.

"I'm comfortable with the way it's developing," Blue, D-Wake, said last week. "From what I was told, the way it's being designed, I think it will be a workable thing. Of course, you've got to realize there's litigation pending now that says the whole process is unconstitutional. But it's good to have a standby in case it's not."

Scheduling notes: Both the House and the Senate floor sessions are scheduled for 2 p.m. Tuesday. Neither chamber is expected to take up substantive legislation.

Program notes: Today@NCCapitol will publish most mornings the legislature is in session with a look ahead for that day's activities. Look for TheWrap@NCCapitol, a video recap of legislative business, at the conclusion of most legislative days.

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