Foreign Relations Dem: Senate must act on Trump’s ambassador nominees

Foreign Relations Dem: Senate must act on Trump’s ambassador nominees
© Greg Nash
A Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee expressed frustration Thursday over the slow pace of confirmations for President TrumpDonald TrumpTexas announces election audit in four counties after Trump demand Schumer sets Monday showdown on debt ceiling-government funding bill Pennsylvania AG sues to block GOP subpoenas in election probe MORE’s ambassador nominees, saying he would push Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats' do-or-die moment Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan Progressives push for fossil subsidy repeal in spending bill MORE (D-N.Y.) to bring them to the floor for a vote.

Speaking on conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt's radio show, Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsDems punch back over GOP holdup of Biden SBA nominee Biden threatens more sanctions on Ethiopia, Eritrea over Tigray conflict Senate Democrats to Garland: 'It's time to end the federal death penalty' MORE (D-Del.) said it is a “significant problem” that the Senate has not confirmed ambassadors to 25 “critical nations,” including South Korea and South Africa.

Coons also singled out Germany as a problem spot. Last September, Trump tapped former U.S. spokesman to the United Nations Richard Grenell to represent the U.S. there, but Grenell has still not had a confirmation vote. 

“This one’s dragged on far too long,” Coons said. 

The Delaware Democrat promised Hewitt, who is friends with Grenell, that he’d push Schumer to vote on the matter.

“The vacancy in Germany has gone on just far too long,” Coons said. “And I’ll be glad to press for Grenell to get a vote, because we shouldn’t have a country as significant as Germany, we shouldn’t have any country without an ambassador, but that’s a major European power.”

Coons said he just returned from a congressional delegation trip overseas and that there is a marked difference in visiting countries where the U.S. has an ambassador and those where ambassadors have not yet been confirmed.

“When I’ve traveled to countries where we don’t have an ambassador, it makes a real difference in terms of the level of our relationship and their ability to effectively represent us,” Coons said. 

“The world of diplomacy is one that really follows sort of rank order, chain of command — and in the absence of an ambassador, some places in the world, we really can’t have the impact we need to,” Coons said.

Trump has fumed at the Senate for failing to confirm his ambassador nominees, blaming Schumer for the “unprecedented” blockade of his nominees.

The White House has sought to highlight a different ambassador who has not been confirmed before every press briefing.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has said that 43 percent of Trump’s nominees are still awaiting confirmation in the Senate and that there have been 102 fewer confirmations so far than the next closest administration.

Confirming Grenell as ambassador to Germany is among the administration’s top priorities.

Grenell has broad support among Republicans and has cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

A Democrat outside of the Foreign Relations Committee was suspected of putting a hold on his nomination, but Coons said Thursday that the hold has since been lifted.

Democrats are requiring 30 hours of floor debate for the confirmations, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse passes standalone bill to provide B for Israel's Iron Dome Pelosi vows to avert government shutdown McConnell calls Trump a 'fading brand' in Woodward-Costa book MORE (R-Ky.) has not scheduled a vote for Grenell or several others.