On Wednesday, Joe Biden, the President of the United States, revealed two more names for the ambassador candidates. However, Democratic leaders and the White House warned that drive by some Senate Republican leaders to blockade all but a small part of diplomatic and other federal security appointees is doing severe harm to American efforts across the world.
Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, threatened to keep representatives who are willing to get home for Christmas at work in Washington into next week if further development is not made on the excess of over seventy diplomatic candidates awaiting votes. Federal government officials acknowledge that Biden will almost definitely end this year with more diplomatic positions than recent presidents. The slowdown of national security and ambassadorial picks already impacted the overseas relations of the United States.
The principal deputy press secretary of the White House, Karine Jean-Pierre, said that it is long past time for Republican senators to get out of the way and let the U.S. Senate instantly confirm these federal nominees so they can work and support for the interests of American nationals across the world. But, unfortunately, as of 14th December, Senate only confirmed thirteen of the eighty-five ambassadorial nominees of President Biden, according to the White House.
At the same time in the three previous U.S. governments, presidents had far more of their ambassadors confirmed and deployed at embassies globally. For example, former Republican President Donald Trump had forty-four of his sixty nominees confirmed. Likewise, Democratic President Barack Obama, seventy-two of ninety-six, and Republican George W. Bush ninety0three out of one hundred and three.
Ambassador Nomination Status as of 14th December
Biden Ambassadorial Nominations Languish
As compared to his recent predecessors, President Biden saw a smaller percentage of Senate-confirmed ambassadors at the same point. Much of Schumer and White House’s frustration pointed toward some GOP Senators who set roadblocks, especially Texican GOP Senator Ted Cruz – by using technical maneuvering to slow down the appointment procedure of ambassador and others at the Homeland Security Department, Defense Department, and Department of State.
GOP pressure is also increasing on Cruz over the holds. While pointing to ambassadorial vaccines for Japan and China, Senator Lindsey Graham said that the administration needs to get some people in place. On Wednesday, Cruz said that he had offered to pull out holds on sixteen nominations in exchange for a Senate vote on sanctioning the firms behind Nord Stream 2 (a controversial natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany).
Criticizers on both sides of the corridor raised their concerns that the gas pipeline will endanger the energy security of Europe by increasing the dependency of the continent on Russian gas and allowing it to exercise diplomatic pressure on susceptible Central and Eastern European countries specifically Ukraine. On the other hand, Schumer argued that the Texas GOP leader must lift his holds on all vacancies from the Treasury and State departments as well as the United States Agency for International Development.
Schumer said they are not talking about partisan nominees or revolutionaries who leave the left field. Many of these candidates (including men and women) are uncontroversial. The Senate usually confirms uncontroversial Pentagon and State Department nominees by common consent, a procedure that does not require the Senate to use valued floor time.
Biden Nominated 174 People for National Security Positions
A senator hold does not block a nominee from confirmation. It only requires additional time-consuming phases to get a concluding vote. Thus far, Democratic leaders have chosen to focus on the confirmation of federal judges. In general, the president nominated one hundred and seventy-four individuals for national security positions in the departments of State, Homeland Security, and Defense that require Senate confirmation. Thirty-six percent or around sixty-three nominees confirmed.
Even with the backlog, the president continues to send new nominations to the Senate for confirmation. On Wednesday, Biden announced that he would nominate former American Olympic skater Michelle Kwan to serve as a diplomat to Belize, daughter of the late American President John F. Kennedy, to serve as his chief envoy to Australia and a former American envoy to Japan in the Obama government.
Just in: President Biden announces three new ambassador picks, headlined by nominating Caroline Kennedy as ambassador to Australia. She’s JFK’s oldest child and the former ambassador to Japan.
Also selected: Former U.S. olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan as ambassador to Belize
— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) December 15, 2021
Publicly, White House officials praised foreign service officers who tried to fill the void at embassies as the government looms confirmation of ambassadorial picks. However, the barricade has already had a tangible impact on the foreign policy of the country as well as security interests in hot spots globally, according to the officials.
Forced Uyghur Labor in Western China
In November, GOP senator Marco Rubio of Florida announced that he had put a hold on the Nicholas Burns nomination to be ambassador to China to push the president to sign into law bilateral lawmaking he co-authored prohibiting products made with forced Uyghur labor in western China. Furthermore, the White House stated Tuesday after the House approved the bill that the president would work with Congress to execute it.