State health nominee helms department without Senate confirmation | WYPR

State health nominee helms department without Senate confirmation

Apr 4, 2017

Dennis Schrader, who Gov. Larry Hogan nominated to lead the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, answers questions during his confirmation hearing.
Credit Rachel Baye

Gov. Larry Hogan has withdrawn his nominee to lead the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Dennis Schrader.  But Schrader will continue to serve as the department’s acting secretary without Senate confirmation.

Hogan withdrew the nomination when it became clear the Senate Executive Nominations Committee would not vote on Schrader at Monday’s meeting, presumed the last meeting before session ends on April 10.

Spokeswoman for the governor Amelia Chasse said the confirmation process became too political.

"The governor felt that this was too important of a position to leave at the mercy of political winds, decided to withdraw Secretary Schrader, reappoint him in the position and hope that cooler heads will prevail and that we can move on with the confirmation process in the next session," she said.

Schrader's interview with the Senate Executive Nominations Committee was largely uncontroversial, and the committee was expected to vote in favor of the nomination before Sine Die.

Bypassing the constitutionally required confirmation process is unprecedented, said Sen. Bill Ferguson, a Baltimore City Democrat and chairman of the Executive Nominations Committee, said on the floor Tuesday. He compared it to President Donald Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The equivalent example of this is that if our current president just skipped the Senate confirmation process and said, ‘Mr. Gorsuch, you’re on the Supreme Court without the Senate’s consent,'" he said.

Earlier this session, the legislature passed budget language preventing the state from paying nominees whose names were withdrawn from the confirmation process. Hogan’s office questioned whether that move is legal.