I don't usually like to throw questions out to the lazyweb, but this is the first week of classes which is always busy.
So here's my question: the Senate has started a whole round of confirmation hearings for Cabinet and other top appointments by president-elect Barack Obama. But as far as the Constitution is concerned, only the President, not the President-elect, can make nominations to government jobs. The Senate is of course free to hold hearings about whatever it wants, and there is no constitutional requirement for a committee to do anything prior to the full Senate's exercise of its 'advice and consent' power. But I don't see how the full Senate could vote on a nomination without there being an actual official nomination.
Legally, I can see two ways for this to work. Either the incumbent has already made a courtesy nomination, which I think is highly unlikely, or the Senate is front-running on the actual nomination, which will come as soon as Mr. Obama is inaugurated. In the first version, the full Senate can vote any time; in the second version the Senate can't actually vote until January 20, after the nomination officially happens. (There is of course at least one more possibility, which is that the niceties are not being observed. Yet even if there were a transitional statute that applied I don't see how it could trump the Constitutional provisions governing appointments of the leading Officers of the United States.)
NPR, at least, reports that,
Kerry has said he plans to hold a committee vote before week's end, setting up a scenario where the Senate could confirm [Sen.] Clinton before Obama is sworn in Jan. 20, and a new senator named to fill her New York seat.
If that's right, my second scenario is wrong. But then again, maybe that's not right.
Anyone know the actual facts?