Ted Cruz is blocking diplomats from being confirmed, and it has nothing to do with their qualifications
July 21, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
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An extraordinary effort by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz to block nominees from being confirmed to vital jobs in the State Department is creating hurdles for the Biden administration and hindering US diplomacy, according to Democrats and Republicans who spoke to CNN.
Washington (CNN)An extraordinary effort by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas to block nominees from being confirmed to vital jobs in the State Department is creating hurdles for the Biden administration and hindering US diplomacy, according to Democrats and Republicans who spoke to CNN.
Cruz is trying to pressure the administration on a specific point of Russia policy, a campaign that other Republicans say is fruitless and that triggered a fiery shouting match with Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat who's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Now Cruz has effectively stopped the Senate from voting on senior department nominees unless Democrats take the time-consuming steps needed to overcome a filibuster for each nomination, leaving around a dozen offices without confirmed leadership.
There are a number of factors at play, six sources familiar with the process told CNN: Cruz's holds; Senate leadership not prioritizing State Department nominees; Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee using individual nominees as leverage to make demands of the administration; lawmakers appearing to slow-walk candidates, claiming they need more time to review nominees' files; and a failure to get through some of those files expediently.
But out of that long list, it is the lawmaker from Texas who has created the biggest roadblock of all, sources from both sides of the aisle said, pointing to Cruz's hold on State Department nominees to pressure the administration over Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
Republicans privately admit they are slow-walking State Department nominees to squeeze concessions from the administration -- and also that they're frustrated by Cruz's campaign, which they see as pointless, as the White House will not budge on its Nord Stream policy.
Cruz's blocks on nominees who have reached the Senate floor are "counterproductive to our collective cause advancing the foreign policy and national security of the United States," Menendez said.
Because of Cruz's hold, there are now more than a dozen nominees for senior State Department positions who can get confirmed only if Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer invokes cloture, a procedural step to break a filibuster, end debate and move to a vote that requires 30 hours of debate, a committee aide told CNN.