Half a year into President Joe Biden’s administration, only six candidates for State Department posts have been confirmed by the Senate, with 60 being blocked by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, despite pressure from both parties to move forward, CNN reports.
Cruz, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is using his position to prevent votes on Biden’s nominees from taking place due to the sanctions waiver the White House gave to a company working on a Russian gas pipeline.
CNN notes that other Senate Republicans have expressed their view that Cruz’s efforts to lift the waiver, which was granted in an effort to improve relations with Germany, are “fruitless.”
“I look forward to lifting the holds just as soon as they impose the sanctions on Nord Stream 2 that are required by federal law,” Cruz told the news network.
He added that Secretary of State “Tony Blinken likes pointing out that the waiver of sanctions can be rescinded. He’s right. And that’s how they can get the holds lifted.”
This caused a recent angry confrontation with the panel’s chairman, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who said to Cruz during a committee business meeting last month: “Maybe it’s your presidential aspirations, I don’t know, but you’re turning to political purposes. You held over every nominee. Every nominee! I’ve never seen that.”
Cruz replied: “I did so for a policy that, Mr. Chairman, you used to support … that the Biden administration has deliberately undercut and given a gift to Putin and Russia.”
Administration officials note that the nominees being blocked have received widespread bipartisan support, and one senior official told CNN that “it is critical for our national security and foreign policy that the Senate move forward with these qualified, experienced nominees as quickly as possible.”
They added, “We hope some Senate Republicans will cease using time-consuming delay tactics to slow the confirmation process — even though many nominees have received strong bipartisan support — so these public servants can help restore our country’s standing around the world and advocate for American interests abroad.”
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