The Senate on Tuesday confirmed four of President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE’s ambassadors, slowly advancing a confirmation process that has stalled under protest from Republican senators.
All four nominees passed by voice vote, signaling bipartisan support and their appointments as noncontroversial.
The confirmed ambassadors include former Arizona Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeRubio vows to slow-walk Biden's China, Spain ambassador nominees Senate confirms Thomas Nides as US ambassador to Israel Flake, Cindy McCain among latest Biden ambassadors confirmed after delay MORE (R) as the envoy to Turkey and former New Mexico Sen. Tom UdallTom UdallRubio vows to slow-walk Biden's China, Spain ambassador nominees Senate confirms Thomas Nides as US ambassador to Israel Flake, Cindy McCain among latest Biden ambassadors confirmed after delay MORE (D) to be ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa.
Cindy McCain, the wife of the late Arizona Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe bully who pulls the levers of Trump's mind never learns GOP senators appalled by 'ridiculous' House infighting MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace, Chris Christie battle over Fox News MORE (R), was confirmed as the U.S. envoy to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture with the rank of ambassador.
And attorney and activist Victoria Reggie Kennedy was confirmed to be ambassador to Austria.
They are the first tranche of ambassadors to be confirmed following the sole confirmation of Ken Salazar on Aug. 11 as U.S. ambassador to Mexico.
While the senate confirmation process can be drawn out and bureaucratically burdensome, the holdup on Biden’s nominees, especially for the State Department, are the result of a blanket hold by Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown MORE (R-Texas).
While Cruz has blocked nearly all of the president’s diplomatic nominees in opposition to Biden’s handling of a Russian gas pipeline, he told The Washington Post last week he would let votes on Flake, McCain and others to proceed “out of senatorial courtesy.”
One tidbit as ambassador-a-rama kicks off this week - Cruz tells me he won’t hold up confirmation for Flake for Turkey, Udall for New Zealand, etc out of senatorial courtesy. Cruz has a hold on various State/Treasury noms due to ongoing battle with admin over Nord Stream 2— Seung Min Kim (@seungminkim) October 19, 2021
Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyTo counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors Facebook unblocks Rittenhouse searches GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions MORE (R-Mo.) has also threatened to hold nominees at the State Department and Department of Defense in retaliation for the Biden administration's handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan. He has called for the resignation of national security adviser Jake SullivanJake SullivanBiden to receive 'regular updates' about Michigan school shooting Biden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress GOP holds on Biden nominees set back gains for women in top positions MORE and Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden administration prepared to use 'other tools' on Iran amid troubled nuclear talks US intelligence says Russia planning Ukraine offensive involving 175K troops: reports MORE in order to lift the holds.
Cruz maintains a hold on at least 40 nominees for the State Department, for what he says is an effort to force the administration to impose congressionally-mandated sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline to Europe.
"I've made clear to every State Department official, to every state department nominee, that I will place holds on these nominees unless and until the Biden administration follows the law and stops this pipeline and imposes the sanctions,” Cruz said in floor remarks in August.
The pipeline, which runs from Russia under the Baltic Sea to Germany, is considered finished.
The Biden administration has effectively allowed the pipeline's operation to proceed, arranging an agreement with Berlin in July with the terms meant to offset the risks of the pipeline, namely Moscow’s ability to leverage energy over Europe and deprive Ukraine of profits from gas delivery in Europe.
--Updated on Oct. 27 at 7:09 a.m.