The state Senate will try again to sign off on Gov. Roy Cooper’s Cabinet appointments and is revising its scheduled hearings to review them, a process that was interrupted by the governor’s lawsuit challenging the legislature’s authority to do so.
Cooper, meanwhile, said Wednesday the Senate is acting prematurely because he has until mid-May to submit those names, by which time the dispute could be settled in court.
Both sides are relying on a court ruling on Tuesday that cut both ways. A three-judge panel denied Cooper’s request to block the Senate’s action until the lawsuit goes to trial in March. It said that if the Senate rejects any of his Cabinet appointments, then Cooper can return to court and seek a preliminary injunction halting the confirmation process.
The judges also said Cooper had until May 15 to formally submit those names, and that is when the confirmation process begins.
I’m hoping they will let this court case play out.
Gov. Roy Cooper
“Clearly, the court order said the confirmation process has not started,” Cooper told reporters after an appearance at an event in Raleigh. “… I’m hoping they will let this court case play out.”
Cooper has sworn in eight of the 10 Cabinet members, and they are in their new positions.
The ruling dissolved a temporary restraining order that had stopped the first two of the Senate’s scheduled confirmation hearings. Senate Leader Phil Berger says that clears the way for the hearings to resume for the Cabinet secretaries who are in place. On Wednesday, Berger’s office released this statement:
The court has removed all barriers to the legislature moving forward with confirmation hearings ....
Sen. Phil Berger’s office
“The court has removed all barriers to the legislature moving forward with confirmation hearings on the eight appointees that Gov. Cooper has sworn in as acting department secretaries, and we expect the Senate to announce a revised schedule soon. We look forward to receiving the governor’s names for the departments of Revenue and Information Technology by May 15.”
The Senate Rules Committee had developed a schedule of hearings for the Cabinet members that were to have begun last week and stretch out over two months.