"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."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.
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.
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.