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Dems want Schumer to play hardball against GOP blockade on ambassadors

For months, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have stood in the best way of swift confirmations of dozens of largely non-controversial nominees to key foreign-policy positions within the Biden administration. Their blockade, which forces Schumer to use worthwhile flooring time to course of every nominee, has drawn ire not simply Democrats, however from European allies and a few Republicans.

The Senate’s gradual tempo on diplomatic nominations has been putting. The chamber has confirmed simply 9 of Biden’s nominees for overseas ambassadorships, and simply one-third of all national-security positions for which Biden has submitted a nominee. At this level in Donald Trump’s presidency, the Senate had already confirmed 40 overseas ambassadors and two-thirds of national-security positions.

Within the meantime, the already sky-high partisan tensions within the higher chamber are worsening.

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“They’ve to bear the burden,” Menendez stated of Republicans. “One thing will occur on the planet and so they’ll remorse holding up an envoy.”

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), a detailed Biden ally within the higher chamber who continuously fields cellphone calls from anxious nominees, stated Schumer ought to make it painful for Republicans by scheduling inconvenient session instances.

“We’ve dozens and dozens of nations around the globe the place there are companions and allies of ours who’re underneath strain from authoritarian regimes the place we wouldn’t have a confirmed ambassador,” Coons stated in a quick interview. “We’re simply harming our nation’s pursuits and our nationwide safety by not confirming these nominees.”

The Senate may contemplate a bundle of diplomatic nominees as early as subsequent week. However the chamber already has a packed calendar of vital laws, together with the annual protection coverage invoice and the debt ceiling. On high of that, Schumer has stated he needs to move Biden’s social spending laws earlier than Christmas.

Cruz and Hawley stay unmoved by Schumer’s threats to preserve the chamber in session by means of the vacations. Hawley, who’s forcing roll-call votes on a number of foreign-policy nominees over the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, stated this week he’s ready to stand in the best way for “so long as it takes,” a vow that some noticed as a nod to his potential presidential ambitions.

“If I’m nonetheless on the ground doing this in 2023, so be it, 2024, so be it, till someone is held accountable,” Hawley stated of the Afghanistan pullout. “Till there’s accountability, I’m going to ask that the Senate do the easy process of its job, which is to truly vote on these nominees.”

This previous week, the Senate held votes on nominees for positions within the Justice Division, the Nationwide Mediation Board and the Federal Communications Fee; and the chamber was not in session on Friday. Hawley stated it was wasted time.

“If these have been such urgent priorities,” Hawley stated, “why wasn’t Schumer voting on these every week in the past or two weeks in the past or 5 weeks in the past? As a result of he’s incompetent, that’s why.”

Republicans insist that holding roll-call votes on these nominees shouldn’t be controversial. However previously, the Senate has confirmed lots of them by unanimous consent to keep away from burning worthwhile flooring time. And the constraints of a 50-50 Senate are complicating issues for Schumer, who has generally been compelled to maintain votes merely to discharge a nominee from a committee.

Democrats tried a number of instances to verify some foreign-policy nominees whereas the Senate was voting on different nominations this week.

When Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) sought unanimous consent on a decision expressing assist for Chinese language tennis star Peng Shuai, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin requested him to modify his request to embrace confirming Biden’s nominee for ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns.

Scott objected over what he stated was Burns’ weak document on China, and stated senators must be put on the document with a flooring vote. (Democrats stated Burns’ nomination is on the high of their listing for this month’s doable bundle of foreign-policy nominees on the ground.)

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The identical day, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) tried to verify a tranche of nominees for the International Service, State Division and U.S. Company for Worldwide Improvement — a few of which have been languishing on the Senate flooring for months. Hawley objected.

Later, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) moved to verify a number of ambassadorships, together with for the European Union. Throughout her flooring speech, Shaheen known as out Cruz, who was sitting on the GOP facet of the chamber: “That is the impression of what’s taking place as the results of your holds, Sen. Cruz. We will’t put our nationwide safety within the palms of the individuals who don’t have the standing of ambassadors.”

Regardless of the holdup on the ground, the International Relations Committee has continued to approve diplomatic nominations with bipartisan assist. The panel is scheduled to maintain affirmation hearings subsequent week for Biden’s nominees to function ambassadors to India, Germany and Pakistan.

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