Governor Tom Corbett has spent the week filling out his remaining cabinet posts. He named Major General Wesley Craig as National Guard Adjutant General Wednesday, a day after appointing George Greig as Agriculture Secretary. Just two appointments remain: Conservation and Natural Resources, and Labor and Industry.
So when do Senate hearings and votes on the 18 nominees begin? A few things still have to happen. First, appointees need to fill out a statement of financial interest and a Senate questionnaire. Those informational documents, which Senate Republican spokesman Erik Arneson says take “about a half hour” to fill out, will be posted on a public website, and need to be available for at least ten days before a vote can take place. By Senate tradition, nominees also need to meet with – or at least offer to meet with – all 50 senators. (On Wednesday, Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi sat down with four secretary hopefuls in Harrisburg.)
“We are optimistic that there will be a number of public hearings in February for the nominees who have been sent over,” said Arneson. “However, as I sit here right now, none of them have filed their statements of financial interest or their Senate questionnaires.”
There’s no particular rush to hold confirmation votes, since as Arneson points out, the nominees are already running their departments. “It’s an important process because it’s a public vetting of people who have positions of high responsibility in state government. But they are able to do those jobs today while they are still awaiting confirmation. And from a practical point of view, their ability to do their job is not affected by not yet being confirmed,” he said.
Secretary picks only need the “yes” vote of 26 Senators, compared to Corbett’s yet-unnamed Attorney General nominee, who will require a two-thirds vote.