Biden's confirmed ambassadors all have close Senate connections




  • In Politics
  • 2021-10-27 00:33:22Z
  • By Axios
 

It turns out the best way for any of President Biden's would-be ambassadors to get confirmed by the Senate is to have served in the Senate - or been married to a senator.

Driving the news: Each of the four ambassadorial nominees confirmed Tuesday has a connection to the Senate. Their approval brings the president's number of confirmed ambassadors to five, and the fifth has his own Senate link.

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  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who's been blocking nominees, cited "senatorial courtesy" in dropping his opposition for the confirmations of Jeff Flake, Tom Udall, Cindy McCain and Vicki Kennedy, the Washington Post's Seung Min Kim tweeted.

  • Both Flake and Udall are former senators.

Between the lines: Flake, an Arizona Republican, was approved as ambassador to Turkey, while Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico, will serve as envoy to New Zealand and Samoa.

  • McCain, widow of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), was confirmed as ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome.

  • Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), was confirmed to be ambassador to Austria.

The quartet joins Ken Salazar.

  • The former senator from Colorado was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Mexico in August.

Why it matters: The president has been delayed in getting his nominees confirmed as Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have committed to slowing down the process.

  • In a twist, Cruz will not hold up Nick Burns' confirmation as ambassador to China, a source familiar with the decision told Axios.

  • While Burns is not a former senator, he's a widely respected former ambassador, longtime diplomat and Harvard professor.

  • In assenting to his confirmation, Cruz is underscoring the importance of getting an ambassador in Beijing amid economic, military and COVID-19 disputes with China.

Be smart: The confirmations on Tuesday came just before Biden was slated to fly to Italy for a meeting with G20 leaders in Rome.

What we're watching: The timing of Rahm Emanuel's confirmation as ambassador to Japan also presents an interesting question:

  • Does congressional courtesy extend to a House guy?

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