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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a news conference with Britain's Foreign Minister William Hague at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London September 9, 2013. Kerry said on Monday Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a milita
Senate Republicans are continuing their slow walk, dragging out every Obama nomination that they can in their ongoing temper tantrum of having one of their obstruction tools taken away from them last year with limited filibuster reform. They're not just vexing President Obama or Harry Reid with their pettiness; they're creating a very real diplomatic problem for the U.S., all over the world. This week's votes to confirm Douglas Silliman and Dana Smith as the new envoys to Kuwait and Qatar, respectively only took a combined nine months of floor wait time.
"I really appreciate it today, we get two ambassadors," Senate Majority leader Harry Reid said sarcastically on the Senate floor. "We've only got 27 more to go."

Secretary of State John Kerry, who warned in a strongly worded op-ed in Politico this week that Senate gridlock was "hobbling American diplomacy," put the number higher, saying before Thursday's confirmations that Washington was left without permanent ambassadors in 40 countries.

A quarter of all US ambassadorships in Africa are currently unfilled. […]

"Make no mistake: Vacancies in so many world capitals send a dangerous message to allies and adversaries alike about America's engagement," Kerry wrote.

In addition to the 27 ambassadors still hanging out unconfirmed, there are 53 other State Department nominees waiting, and 37 of those have already been approved by the Foreign Relations Committee. The average wait time for these nominees has been eight months, and the clock is still ticking on them.

But hey, it's not like there are international crises happening in some of the critical parts of the world that the State Department needs to be fully staffed to deal with. Or that the rest of the world looks at the dysfunction in our Congress and laughs.

Reid and Senate Democrats have the power to take away more of the Republican obstruction tools. If Republicans insist on using up every bit of time allowed under Senate rules to drag out these confirmation votes, then make them use that time for what it's supposed to be used for: debate. If they're not on the floor, take their time away. Simple.

Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 01:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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