Rubio's support gets President Obama's envoy to El Salvador over the top

The Senate on Thursday approved President Obama's envoy to El Salvador despite Republican efforts to derail Mari Carmen Aponte's nomination over her public support for gay rights and allegations that she was romantically involved with a Cuban spy two decades ago.

Obama gave Aponte a recess appointment in 2010, but it ran out at the end of last year after Republicans filibustered her nomination. This time, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), under pressure to approve the Puerto Rican nominee, garnered enough support to get cloture on Aponte's nomination, 62-37.

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“Frankly, I have not seen any nominee forced to go through such an arduous and drawn-out confirmation process as Ms. Aponte," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). "As someone who personally reviewed her record, as someone who personally looked at the files, I believe there is nothing to prevent Ambassador Aponte to be confirmed by the Senate."

Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said Rubio did not have any qualms about Aponte personally but held her up until the administration made changes to some of its policies in Latin America.

“When this issue came up last year, Sen. Rubio was opposing several Western Hemisphere nominations because of concerns with the administration’s policies in the hemisphere, especially in Nicaragua,” Conant told The Hill earlier this week. “We worked behind the scenes with the Administration and reached an agreement on Nicaragua, so the senator agreed to vote for cloture on Aponte and find enough Republican votes for her to pass.”

Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Scott Brown (R-Mass.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) joined Rubio in siding with the Democrats.