Dems blast GOP for blocking ambassadorships

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said Republican obstruction of ambassador nominations is “crippling” the U.S. global agenda.

“Republicans have left key diplomatic posts unfilled for months,” Menendez said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “It’s unnecessary, irresponsible and completely unacceptable. … This is about the national interests and security of the United States.”

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Menendez said there are 42 nominees waiting for Senate floor votes that his committee has already approved for ambassadorships in key countries around the world.

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) joined Menendez in expressing outrage at Republican obstruction.

“It’s very hard for this senator to understand why we would hold up having a confirmed ambassador in any country in the world,” Cardin said. “This is hurting our country.”

Senate Republicans have been forcing Democrats to go through procedural hurdles in order to vote on President Obama’s nominations. Last year, Senate Democrats used the “nuclear option” to unilaterally change filibuster rules to make it hard for Republicans to block nominees. Now a simple majority can end debate on most nominations — previously 60 votes were needed.