Cruz says he will lift hold on Biden nominees
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday announced he would lift his hold on President Biden’s State Department nominees amid news the administration planned to allow sanctions on the company behind Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to move forward.
“President Biden made the right decision today. Allowing Putin’s Nord Stream 2 to come online would have created multiple, cascading, and acute security crises for the United States and our European allies for generations to come,” Cruz said in a statement. “Today’s announcement is critical to preventing such scenarios.”
Cruz had delayed dozens of Biden nominees for posts at the State Department over the administration’s decision to waive congressionally mandated sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company behind the controversial pipeline that would carry natural gas from Russia to Germany.
Shortly after Cruz issued the statement, Biden announced that he had ordered sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG and its corporate officers.
“These steps are another piece of our initial tranche of sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House. “As I have made clear, we will not hesitate to take further steps if Russia continues to escalate.”
The development means that the Senate will be able to quickly move to confirm nominees who had been stalled when it returns to Washington.
Germany on Tuesday halted certification of the pipeline project, which was still going through the regulatory process, as part of its response to a renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday recognized two regions of eastern Ukraine, Luhansk and Donetsk, as independent and ordered troops there.
Biden on Tuesday announced a first tranche of U.S. sanctions on Russia over the decision to move troops into Ukraine. The U.S. sanctioned two Russian banks and five Russian elites and their family members.
Some have called for the administration to impose harsher sanctions. White House officials have pledged to implement more stringent penalties on Russia if it further invades Ukraine.
Speaking on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday morning, White House deputy national security adviser for international economics Daleep Singh said the administration could levy additional sanctions on Russia “at any moment.”
Updated: 2:17 p.m.