Back in February 2021, in the early days of the Biden Administration, I wrote about when we might expect to see a nominee for the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The conventional wisdom is that Cabinet heads go first and then the administration works its way down the hierarchy filling the thousands of political appointments that turn over with each new presidential administration. At the time, Neera Tanden‘s nomination to be the Director of the Office of Management & Budget was pending, and OIRA is part of OMB, so we wouldn’t have expected to see an OIRA nominee until Tanden was confirmed. When I pulled the data on first OIRA nominees for every administration since OIRA was created, I did so in part to reset expectations and show folks that it tends to take a little while.
The Biden Administration went on to take the longest time (by a wide margin) to nominate an OIRA administrator. It was not until day 600 that we saw a nominee. Surely some of this was due to Tanden’s nomination stalling and ultimately being withdrawn in March 2021. Shalanda Young was confirmed to be OMB Deputy Director in March 2021 and Young served as acting Director until she was confirmed as Director in March 2022. But there was still no OIRA nominee for most of 2022.
In September 2022, the president nominated Prof. Ricky Revesz of NYU and thankfully the Senate confirmed him in December 2022. Now that the dust has settled, here are the updated stats:
|Rec' in the Senate||Days between Inaug. and Nom.||Conf. Hearing||Confirmed||Days between Inaug. and Conf.|
|Apr. 21, 1993||91||May 19, 1993||May 28, 1993 (unanimous consent)||128|
|John D. Graham
(G.W. Bush Admin.)
|Mar. 28, 2001||67||May 17, 2001||July 19, 2001 (61-37)||180|
|Cass R. Sunstein
|Apr. 20, 2009||90||May 12, 2009||Sept. 10, 2009 (57-40 following cloture)||233|
|May 18, 2017||118||June 7, 2017||July 10, 2017 (54-41 following cloture)||171|
|Richard L. Revesz
|Sept. 12, 2022||600||Sept. 29, 2022||Dec. 21, 2022 (voice vote)||700|
Today marks the first day of the second half of Biden’s first (?) term. This means that for almost all of the first half of his administration — in which modernizing regulatory review a day-one priority and the ultra-thin margin on the Hill meant executive action was at a premium — OIRA’s top spot was vacant. While OIRA was ably helmed by both political and career appointees during that time, it’s hard to overstate the importance of having confirmed appointees in key place like OIRA.
As I mentioned in the last post, the tightening of vote totals over time for different nominees also intrigues me. Most recently, Revesz was voted out of committee on an impressive (and rare) 9-2 bipartisan vote and then he was confirmed on the Senate floor by voice vote, which means that the votes were not recorded, so we don’t have the totals. Revesz was confirmed in the heat of a very busy final few days of the 117th Congress, so perhaps it was done by voice vote for convenience and speed. The Senate always keeps us guessing!