Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks

Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocratic frustration with Sinema rises Schumer endorses democratic socialist India Walton in Buffalo mayor's race Guns Down America's leader says Biden 'has simply not done enough' on gun control MORE (D-N.Y.) is moving to break a GOP blockade that has slowed down President BidenJoe BidenGrant Woods, longtime friend of McCain and former Arizona AG, dies at 67 Sanders on Medicare expansion in spending package: 'Its not coming out' Glasgow summit raises stakes for Biden deal MORE's State Department nominees.

Schumer, on Tuesday, teed up votes on seven nominees, six of whom were part of the nearly 30 nominees blocked last month by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it Australian politician on Cruz, vaccines: 'We don't need your lectures, thanks mate' MORE (R-Texas). 

"Over the next few weeks, Senate Democrats will also move forward on a number of noncontroversial nominees critical to keeping our country safe and advancing American diplomacy abroad," Schumer said on the Senate floor on Tuesday.

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"Over the last few months there has been a growing backlog on these nominees due to Republican obstructionism, and it is our hope starting this week we can move to secure their confirmation," he added.

Republicans can't block a nominee from being confirmed if Democrats are totally unified and Vice President Harris breaks the tie. But they can use the Senate's rulebook to slow them down and force Democrats to eat up days of precious floor time.

Cruz has vowed to slow-walk State Department nominees until the Biden administration imposes congressionally mandated sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will allow Russia to deliver natural gas to Germany.

He allowed three to go through earlier this month, noting at the time that two of them were "directly related to trying to clean up the mess, the disaster, the Biden administration has created in Afghanistan" and the third was someone that he had dropped his hold on weeks ago.

But he reiterated at the time that he was keeping most of his blockade in place because the administration was in "outright defiance of federal law." The Biden administration in May issued a sanctions waiver on one entity and three individuals related to the pipeline's construction.

In addition to Cruz, Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyState watchdog to launch review of Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal Juan Williams: Trump's toxicity fuels fear of violence Pentagon, State Department square off on Afghanistan accountability MORE (R-Mo.) — who, like Cruz, is considered a 2024 presidential contender — has also announced that he'll slow down Biden's State Department and Pentagon nominees until Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinBiden remarks on Taiwan leave administration scrambling Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan GOP lawmakers worry vaccine mandate will impact defense supply chain MORE, Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Nearly 200 Americans want to leave Afghanistan, State Department tells Congress Syria's challenge to Tony Blinken's conscience MORE and national security adviser Jake SullivanJake SullivanSullivan raised normalizing relations with Israel during meeting with Saudi crown prince: report Biden struggles to rein in Saudi Arabia amid human rights concerns Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — World leaders call for enhanced cooperation to fight wave of ransomware attacks MORE resign due to the messy Afghanistan exit. 

"Leaders take responsibility of their failures. And the failure of these individuals, the failure of this administration has costs Americans their lives," Hawley said in a floor speech at the time.