Democrats are threatening to delay the start of the Senate’s holiday recess unless Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, stops blocking dozens of President Joe Biden’s State Department nominees.
Cruz is seeking sanctions related to the construction of the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline before he agrees to some of Biden’s ambassador nominees.
The senator on Wednesday objected to Democrats’ latest attempt to confirm nominees. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., sought a handful of ambassador nominations — including former Chicago Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan.
Cruz also has blocked nominations across the Treasury Department and the U.S. Agency of International Development.
“I have a reasonable and good faith offer on the table to lift a number of holds,” Cruz said, The Hill reported. “I have demonstrated that I am more than willing to negotiate on good faith on this.
“[Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer has the ability to confirm a substantial chunk of nominees. He could do so today, if he simply accepted the deal.”
Cruz isn’t the only Republican senator who has placed a hold on nominees.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., in October threatened to delay all of Biden’s nominees to the State Department and Pentagon unless Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin resigned. However, Hawley noted Wednesday that he doesn’t have any holds placed on Biden’s ambassador picks, The Hill said.
Schumer, however, has warned that he’s willing to keep the Senate in Washington, D.C., heading into Christmas. Senators are scheduled to leave town Friday until January. The House left on Wednesday morning.
“Democrats are working to clear as much of the backlog as possible by consent. If we cannot make much progress, we may need to stay and hold votes on nominees this weekend and next week until we do,” Schumer, D-N.Y., said, The Hill reported.
The media outlet added that Schumer and Cruz had exchanged offers but so far did not appear to be close to a deal.
The Hill reported that Cruz has offered to lift holds on 16 nominees, according to GOP senators.
“It seems like he’s very flexible on the list. He gets a vote on Nord Stream 2. I don’t know why this is as hard as it is,” Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said, The Hill reported.
Democrat lawmakers and even some Republicans are concerned that leaving the ambassador spots open undermines the ability for the administration to defend U.S. interests internationally, The Hill reported.
More than 50 ambassador nominees are available for a vote in the Senate. Unless Cruz drops his objection, though, Democrats would need days of floor time to get to a vote on a nomination.
Cruz did allow some picks — including former colleagues Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Tom Udall, D-N.M. — to be confirmed. Flake was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Turkey, and Udall as ambassador to New Zealand.