Rubio vows to slow-walk Biden's China, Spain ambassador nominees

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense & National Security — US tries to deter Russian invasion of Ukraine Senate eyes plan B amid defense bill standoff To counter China, the Senate must confirm US ambassadors MORE (R-Fla.) said on Tuesday that he will slow-walk 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 nominees to be the U.S. ambassadors to China and Spain, the latest roadblock from Senate Republicans for State Department picks.

Rubio said that he had placed holds on Nicholas Burns's nomination to be ambassador to China and Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón's nomination for ambassador to Spain.

Rubio, in a statement, said that he believed Burns — who previously worked in the State Department during the George W. Bush and Clinton administrations — had a career "defined by the failure to understand the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party."

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Rubio called Reynoso a "sympathizer and apologist" for the Castro government in Cuba and "has absolutely no business being in our government."

"I am confident ... that Reynoso would not push Spain to increase pressure on the authoritarian regimes in Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela," he added.

Reynoso serves as first lady Jill BidenJill BidenWhite House holiday decorations available for 360 tour via Google Street View The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Congress avoids shutdown The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden talks up bright side beneath omicron's cloud MORE’s chief of staff and as an assistant to the president. She previously served as ambassador to Uruguay and deputy assistant secretary for Central America and the Caribbean in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs under the Obama administration.

Rubio's decision to drag out the two ambassador nominations marks the latest setback for Biden's State Department picks.

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.) vowed earlier this year that he would hold up Biden's picks for the Defense and State departments unless 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 and 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 resign in the wake of the administration's Afghanistan exit. 

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And 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) has vowed to block the quick confirmation of State Department nominees over his opposition to the administration’s waiving of congressionally mandated sanctions on a Russian natural gas pipeline.

Cruz has let some State Department nominations, including ambassador nominations for former Senate colleagues 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-Ariz.) and 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-N.M.), move quickly.

The GOP blockade on State Department picks has frustrated Democrats and the Biden administration, who have warned that it's undermining the ability to advance U.S. interest abroad. There are more than 50 State Department nominees currently awaiting a Senate floor vote.

“Republicans who are holding up these nominees are endangering our national security, making it harder for our country to respond to threats at home and abroad,” Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerHospitals in underserved communities face huge cuts in reckless 'Build Back Better' plan GOP infighting takes stupid to a whole new level Progressive groups urge Schumer to prevent further cuts to T plan MORE (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor earlier this month.

And Rubio's decision to hold up Burns is a blow to what appeared to be a path to getting him quickly confirmed.

Both Cruz and Hawley have said they would not block Burns's confirmation vote from moving forward, and he advanced out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month.