Senate Dems: GOP blocking 'critical' national security nominees

Senate Democrats are slamming Republicans for blocking dozens of national security nominees they say are critical in the wake of last week's Paris attacks.

"Republicans need to stop holding our national security apparatus hostage to political demands, which is exactly what this has been," Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBiden's pick for bank watchdog pulls out after GOP accusations of communism Senate race in Ohio poses crucial test for Democrats Powell says Fed will consider faster taper amid surging inflation MORE (D-Ohio) told reporters on Wednesday.

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Brown, as well as Democratic Sens. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBuild Back Better Is bad for the states  Dole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Biden points to drug prices in call for Senate social spending vote MORE (N.Y.), Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinOvernight Defense & National Security — US tries to deter Russian invasion of Ukraine Senate eyes plan B amid defense bill standoff Senators propose sanctions against Iran over alleged plot to kidnap US journalist MORE (Md.) and Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowStabenow calls for expansion of school mental health services The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - New vaccine mandate in NYC; Biden-Putin showdown The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Omicron tests vaccines; Bob Dole dies at 98 MORE (Mich.), blamed Republicans for holding up dozens of nominations, including Eric Fanning's nomination to be Army secretary and Adam Szubin's nomination as the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes.

Schumer, who is expected to be the next Senate Democratic leader, added that Republicans are moving at a "glacial pace" on nominations that affect national security.

"That isn't just backward, that's dangerous. We should be fighting ISIS with all hands on deck," he said, referring to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The comments come after Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ky.) set up a vote on Gayle Smith's nomination to lead the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Democrats have long argued that blocking Smith's nomination has hurt the administration's ability to respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.

Cardin noted that he was on his way to the Senate floor to ask for unanimous consent to pass the nomination when McConnell scheduled the vote.

Asked why he thought the nomination was allowed to move forward, he said "there have been conversations directly with Sen. [Ted] Cruz [R-Texas] on his hold."

Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBiden tries to tamp down tensions with Putin call Biden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions MORE (D-N.H.) said separately that though Smith's nomination is getting a vote, "there are many other nominees that are ready to serve their country in our foreign policy and national security agencies but are stuck waiting in the wings."

In addition to Szubin and Fanning, State Department nominations including dozens of foreign service posts and ambassadorships, are being blocked over an investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBen Affleck: Republicans 'want to dodge the consequences for their actions' through gerrymandering Republican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema MORE's email server, a Secret Service scandal and the Iran nuclear deal.

Cardin stressed that not having a confirmed nominee reflects badly on the United States, though he credited Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  MORE (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, for his work to move nominations through the committee.

"I have heard from our missions ... the absence of a confirmed ambassador has an impact on the ability of America to be heard in that country," he said. "It is looked upon as 'well maybe this relationship isn't quite as important as you tell us it is.'"

Updated at 3:47 p.m.