Senate confirms Obama nominees that Cruz had repeatedly blocked
© Getty Images

The Senate on Friday confirmed a handful of State Department nominees that Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWhatever you think the Alabama special election means, you’re probably wrong This week: Congress gets ball rolling on tax reform Week ahead: Senators work toward deal to fix ObamaCare markets MORE had been blocking amid his presidential run.

The Senate approved the nominations of Azita Raji to be ambassador to Sweden, Samuel Heins to be an ambassador to Norway and John Estrada to be an ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Brian Egan to be a legal adviser to the State Department and Thomas Shannon to be an under secretary of State for political affairs by a voice vote. 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGun proposal picks up GOP support Children’s health-care bill faces new obstacles Dems see Trump as potential ally on gun reform MORE (R-Ky.) asked for consent to bring up the nominations during the Senate's brief Friday session.
Before Friday, Republican senators had blocked each of the nominees on behalf of Cruz, who has been away from Washington. 
The Texas Republican has been campaigning in early-voting states, but has pledged to block State Department nominees over the Iran nuclear deal. He is scheduled to campaign in South Carolina on Friday.
The Iowa Republican, however, removed his hold this week. 

Grassley's office said he lifted his hold because the State Department has started to respond to more of his requests and because of an agreement with White House counsel to "ensure that the Department provides specific documents and witnesses."  

The Senate also passed Cruz's legislation to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington after a Chinese dissident. 
Cruz had tried to get a similar measure passed by the Senate but was blocked on the floor by Democrats, who argued that the measure would only antagonize the Chinese government. 
The Texas Republican wants to name the street in front of the embassy "Liu Xiaobo Plaza" after Liu Xiaobo, a human rights activist currently imprisoned in China. He also wants to make the embassy's address "1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza." 
The Senate also confirmed David McKean to be an ambassador to Luxembourg and Sunil Sabharwal to be a U.S. alternative executive director of the International Monetary Fund.