Senate confirms four Biden ambassadors after delay
The Senate on Tuesday confirmed four of President BidenJoe BidenOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Methane fee faces negotiations White House rejects latest Trump claim of executive privilege The No Surprises Act: a bill long overdue MORE’s ambassadors, slowly advancing a confirmation process that has stalled under protest from Republican senators.
All four nominees passed by voice vote, signaling bipartisan support and their appointments as noncontroversial.
The confirmed ambassadors include former Arizona Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donating unused campaign funds to Arizona nonprofit focused on elections: report Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report MORE (R) as the envoy to Turkey and former New Mexico Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallOvernight Defense: Milley reportedly warned Trump against Iran strikes | Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer killed in Afghanistan | 70 percent of active-duty military at least partially vaccinated Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Senate Democrats befuddled by Joe Manchin MORE (D) to be ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.
Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Arizona Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain to Trump: ‘Thanks for the publicity’ Grant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Will Trump choose megalomania over country? MORE (R), was confirmed as the U.S. envoy to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture with the rank of ambassador.
And attorney and activist Victoria Reggie Kennedy was confirmed to be ambassador to Austria.
They are the first tranche of ambassadors to be confirmed following the sole confirmation of Ken Salazar on Aug. 11 as U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
While the senate confirmation process can be drawn out and bureaucratically burdensome, the holdup on Biden’s nominees, especially for the State Department, are the result of a blanket hold by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell’s death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: ‘We don’t need your lectures, thanks mate’ MORE (R-Texas).
While Cruz has blocked nearly all of the president’s diplomatic nominees in opposition to Biden’s handling of a Russian gas pipeline, he told The Washington Post last week he would let votes on Flake, McCain and others to proceed “out of senatorial courtesy.”
One tidbit as ambassador-a-rama kicks off this week – Cruz tells me he won’t hold up confirmation for Flake for Turkey, Udall for New Zealand, etc out of senatorial courtesy. Cruz has a hold on various State/Treasury noms due to ongoing battle with admin over Nord Stream 2
— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) October 19, 2021
Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyThune endorses Herschel Walker in Georgia Senate race State watchdog to launch review of Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal Juan Williams: Trump’s toxicity fuels fear of violence MORE (R-Mo.) has also threatened to hold nominees at the State Department and Department of Defense in retaliation for the Biden administration’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. He has called for the resignation of national security adviser Jake SullivanJake SullivanSaudi prince’s ‘net zero by 2060’ goal comes with intriguing contradictions Sullivan raised normalizing relations with Israel during meeting with Saudi crown prince: report Biden struggles to rein in Saudi Arabia amid human rights concerns MORE and Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenIsraeli official says plans to reopen US mission for Palestinians maybe shelved Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Nearly 200 Americans want to leave Afghanistan, State Department tells Congress MORE in order to lift the holds.
Cruz maintains a hold on at least 40 nominees for the State Department, for what he says is an effort to force the administration to impose congressionally-mandated sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Europe.
“I’ve made clear to every State Department official, to every state department nominee, that I will place holds on these nominees unless and until the Biden administration follows the law and stops this pipeline and imposes the sanctions,” Cruz said in floor remarks in August.
The pipeline, which runs from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany, is considered finished.
The Biden administration has effectively allowed the pipeline’s operation to proceed, arranging an agreement with Berlin in July with the terms meant to offset the risks of the pipeline, namely Moscow’s ability to leverage energy over Europe and deprive Ukraine of profits from gas delivery in Europe.