President Obama on Friday nominated longtime diplomat Thomas Shannon to be the State Department’s undersecretary for political affairs, a closely scrutinized job that would make him the department’s third most powerful official.
If approved by the Senate, Shannon, who has been a counselor at the department since 2013, would fill the vacancy being left by Wendy Sherman, who is stepping down in October after finalizing the nuclear deal with Iran earlier this summer.
In a statement, Secretary of State John Kerry said that Shannon has had a “remarkable” career as a diplomat.
“The United States has major priorities to pursue in every corner of the globe, and I will be counting on Tom for his advice and for the full exercise of his diplomatic skills to advance American interests and values,” Kerry said.
Shannon has previously served as U.S. ambassador to Brazil as well as the acting undersecretary for political affairs in 2011, as part of a 31-year career with the government that brought him all over the globe.
Despite his record in both Republican and Democratic administrations, Shannon’s nomination could run into trouble on Capitol Hill. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has previously pledged to block all State Department nominees because President Obama allowed the Iran deal to be considered before the U.N. Security Council before Congress.