Grassley ends blocks on foreign service nominees

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Sanders mounts staunch defense of 'Medicare for All' | Biden, Sanders fight over health care heats up | House votes to repeal ObamaCare 'Cadillac Tax' | Dems want details on fetal tissue research ban Senate approves long-delayed tax treaties in win for business The peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff MORE (R-Iowa) is lifting his hold on nearly two dozen nominations, which he had been blocking over a probe into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's email server and top aides. 

Senators on Wednesday evening approved all foreign service nominations currently before the Senate by unanimous consent. Grassley's office confirmed that the Judiciary Committee chairman had lifted his hold on 20 foreign service officer nominations. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
But the Iowa Republican also added a hold on a top State Department nominee, telling leadership that he intends to block Thomas Shannon's nomination to be the under secretary of political affairs. 
 
Grassley is also continuing his hold on Brian James Egan's nomination to be a legal adviser for the department, as well as David Malcolm Robinson's nomination to be assistant secretary for conflict and stabilization operations and coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization. 
 
The Iowa Republican's decision to drop his blockade on the foreign service nominations came after Senate Democrats separately slammed Republicans for blocking national security and foreign policy nominations in the wake of the Paris attacks. 
 
Grassley has also come under fire from Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who accused the Iowa Republican of wasting taxpayer money trying to bring down Clinton's presidential campaign. 
 
"Why are nonpartisan public service positions being used as political pawns, especially if they are being blocked just because Senator Grassley doesn't want Hillary Clinton to be the next president of the United States?" the Nevada Democrat asked from the Senate floor. "How much money will Republicans in Congress waste to try to bring down Hillary Clinton? We don't know all the numbers."
 
Grassley, however, has denied that his holds on President Obama's nominees are tied to politics, instead blaming the State Department over a lack of cooperation. 
 
"The department's lack of cooperation has caused me to place 22 holds on its nominees," he said, adding that two and a half years later, "the State Department has still not produced the materials I've requested. The department has implemented several clever strategies to delay the process." 
 
Grassley has been at the center of the Senate's investigation into Clinton's private email server. 

The Iowa Republican has sent multiple letters to top administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, related to a thumb drive that holds copies of Clinton's emails from when she served as secretary of State, as well as a potential investigation into longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin.