Lesson Plan: Researching the Biden Administration Cabinet Nominees

Presidential Transitions and Cabinet Nominations

Don Ritchie talked about presidential cabinet nominations and the Senate committee confirmation process.

Description

Each president is responsible for nominating the heads of each cabinet department. The Senate must provide its advice and consent before these officials are confirmed. This lesson looks at the cabinet nominees chosen by the Biden Administration and has students play the role of the Senate in researching and confirming each nominee. Students will use the C-SPAN Video Library and the Biden Administration Transition website to research and determine if these nominees should be confirmed by the Senate.

Procedures

  • INTRODUCTION:

    Begin class by providing students with an introduction with the process for nominating and confirming cabinet nominees. Students should watch the following video clip and answer each of the following questions.

    Video Clip: Presidential Transitions and Cabinet Nominations (4:03)

    • Why is it important for a president to have cabinet officials in place as soon as possible?

    • What does the president do during the time between the election and inauguration?

    • What is meant by a transition team? What does that transition team do for potential cabinet nominees?

    • What is the process in the Senate for confirming these nominees?

    • According to Don Ritchie, why is it important for Senate committees to provide a detailed review of nominees?
  • EXPLORING CABINET DEPARTMENTS:

    Have the students pretend that they are an aide for a U.S. Senator. They are tasked with researching one (or more if you choose) of the cabinet nominees listed on the Biden Administration Transition website or provided below to determine if they are qualified for that specific cabinet department. Teachers can choose to assign each student a different cabinet position or have them choose. Students should use the handout and the following directions to complete this activity.

    Students should begin by reading the descriptions of each cabinet department listed on the White House website Using this information, they will summarize the role and responsibilities of that cabinet position.

  • RESEARCHING CABINET NOMINEES:

    After having a basic understanding of the role and responsibilities of that cabinet position, students should use the Biden Adminstration website and the C-SPAN Video Library links to research their cabinet nominee. Once they have found relevant information, they can use this clipping guide to learn how to create video clips.

    C-SPAN Video Library Links:

    Directions:

    Using these sites, students should take notes on the handout and provide the following information.

    Handout: Researching the Biden Administration Cabinet Nominees (Google Doc)

    • Who is this Nominee? Provide a brief summary of their life to this point.

    • Relevant Work Experience (Elected positions, committee assignment, private sector employment, etc..)

    • Evidence of their Qualifications for this Cabinet Position

    • Beliefs and Opinions Relating to this Cabinet Position

    • Create a C-SPAN video clip that illustrates how they might perform in this position. Provide a link to this video clip.

    • Develop a list of questions that your Senator should ask during the confirmation
  • APPLICATION:

    After researching and taking notes, students should provide a summary of this nominee and if this nominee is qualified for this specific cabinet position. They should support their position with specific evidence from their research and incorporate information from the sections of the handout.

    Students can provide this information in one of the following ways:

    • Written summary of their recommendations for the nominee

    • Presentation to the class including the C-SPAN video clip. After presenting the class can vote on whether this cabinet member should be confirmed by the Senate.
  • WRAP-UP:

    As an exit slip, have the students answer the following question:

    • What qualifications and experience should cabinet nominees have?
  • ALTERNATIVE/EXTENSION ACTIVITIES:

    Senate Confirmation Hearing Simulation- A student will play the part of a cabinet nominee that they researched. They will provide an opening state about their qualifications for that cabinet position. Other students in the class with play the role of Senators during the confirmation hearing. The Senators will each have a minute to ask the any questions about the qualifications of that nominee. The student playing the nominee will need to answer these questions based on the research.

    Reviewing the News- Research how news outlets are covering the nomination of your nominee. Provide the following for your news article.

    • Summary of the article.

    • How this article portrays your nominee.

    • What this article mentions about the confirmation process.

    • How this news article relates to the research you performed.
  • ADDITIONAL PROMPTS:

    • How is the cabinet nomination process an example of checks and balances?

    • What is meant by the Senate’s power to give its advice and consent for cabinet nominees?

    • Why was the Senate given authority over confirming cabinet nominees?

Additional Resources

Vocabulary

  • Cabinet
  • Confirmation Hearing
  • Inauguration
  • Interregnum
  • Nominee
  • Recess Appointment
  • Term
  • Transition Team
  • Truncated
  • Vetting

Topics

Bureaucracy & RegulationExecutive BranchLegislative Branch

Grades

Middle SchoolHigh SchoolUniversity