Cruz blocks State Department nominees
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Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzKasich finds it hard to rule out 2020 Trump in campaign mode at NRA convention Trump’s hands are tied on 9th Circuit MORE blocked a Democratic push to approve a handful of State Department nominees on Wednesday, even though the Texas Republican is far from D.C., campaigning in New Hampshire.  

Democratic Sens. Ben CardinBen CardinDemocrats exploring lawsuit against Trump Overnight Finance: Dems explore lawsuit against Trump | Full-court press for Trump tax plan | Clock ticks down to spending deadline Sanders on skipping WH Korea briefing: 'I did not want to be part of a photo op' MORE (Md.), Jeanne Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Cybersecurity: Anticipation builds for Trump cyber order | House panel refers Clinton IT contractor for prosecution | Pentagon warned Flynn about foreign payments Dem senator fears Russian election interference could be ‘normalized’ Russian interference looms over European elections MORE (N.H.) and Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) tried to get unanimous consent for the Senate to confirm a handful of President Obama's State nominees, including Thomas Shannon to be an under secretary.
 
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Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeWhy is the State Department refusing to disclose Soros' involvement in Macedonia? What to know about Trump's national monuments executive order ObamaCare must be fixed before it collapses MORE (R-Utah), however, objected to each of the nominations, noting that he was doing so on behalf of Cruz. The presidential candidate has pledged to block State Department nominees over the Iran nuclear deal. 
 
Cardin called Cruz's objections a "master class in needless partisan obstruction." 
 
The Maryland Democrat, the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, added that if senators won't stop blocking nominations then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should file cloture, which would force a procedural vote. 
 
Shaheen said that it was "ironic" that the nominations are "being held up in many cases by a member of this body that's out on the campaign trail." 
 
"He's not here dealing with the work of the country," she added, saying the nominations were being "held up for political reasons." 
 
It's not the first time Cruz has blocked State Department nominations. 
 
Cardin previously tried to get consent to pass seven State nominations late last year, but the Texas Republican objected then, too. 
 
Shaheen also tried to get consent to confirm Adam Szubin to be an under secretary for terrorism and financial crimes for the Treasury Department. Democrats have repeatedly pointed to Szubin's nomination to criticize Republicans for holding up national security nominations. 
 
Lee, however, objected to Shaheen's request on behalf of Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who chairs the Banking Committee. 
 
Shaheen said that while Shelby was in Washington on Wednesday, "it's disappointing that he's not on the floor to talk about what his objections to Adam Szubin are." 
 
Shelby also blocked a handful of Banking Committee nominees late last year.