Republican senator delays confirmation of Nides as ambassador to Israel

WASHINGTON – US Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) voted Tuesday to block eight of President Biden’s ambassadorial candidates, including Thomas Nides, who is appointed to serve as ambassador to Israel. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked the Senate to confirm several nominees by unanimous consent.

Hawley said he objects on behalf of himself and several of his Republican colleagues. “Several of my colleagues have objections to all of the nominees, so I will be here to object on their behalf and also on my own regarding some of them,” he said.

Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized Republicans for their objection, calling it “filibuster.”

“The president has an army of dedicated public servants who play a critical role in our government,” said Schumer. But for months, some Senate Republicans have gone to great lengths to impose pointless restrictions on more than a hundred of these nominees. The consequence: dozens of empty desks in the state department and our embassies and the treasury department and other agencies. “

“These nominees are not controversial,” continued Schumer. “They are routinely confirmed by consent in this chamber until some people decide they want to make a big show of this, for whatever reason. No one had ever done this before. At this point in the Trump administration, for example, both sides are working together to confirm 32 ambassadors by voice vote. Most of us didn’t like the Trump administration or the people he appointed, but we had enough integrity not to allow politics to get into what had been routine decisions. Right now, Republican filibuster has meant that only four nominees have been agreed upon. “

US Senator Bob Menendez. (credit: REUTERS / EDUARDO MUNOZ)

Hawley, in his comments, dismissed Schumer’s criticism. “I agree that many of these nominees are important and that is, in fact, one of the reasons why we should vote on them,” he said. “The Senate Majority Leader comments as if he has no control over the calendar – he’s the Majority Leader of the United States Senate – he decides when we vote, he decides what we vote on.”

“He’s pulling us out of the session so members on the other side of the aisle can go on a field trip to Glasgow, Scotland,” Hawley said.

Senator Menendez responded to Hawley and said that during the Trump administration, many nominees were approved by oral vote. “We will not have an ambassador to Israel as we deal with the challenges of Iran and others in the region,” Menendez added. “It is amazing; all those who come here and talk about our ally, the state of Israel, the importance of the state of Israel, but we will not have an ambassador there to help us face the challenges that Israel has. “

The Israel Policy Forum said in a statement Tuesday: “A strong relationship between the United States and Israel requires strong diplomatic representation, allowing both sides to work closely together and resolve disagreements amicably. We are dismayed that Tom Nides, who is undoubtedly qualified to serve as ambassador to Israel, remains unable to receive a swift confirmation in the Senate. We call on the Senate to act so that Mr. Nides can begin the critical task of representing the United States and its interests in Jerusalem. “

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