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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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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (18+ / 0-)

    "The NSA’s capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything. [...] There would be no place to hide."--Frank Church

    by Joan McCarter on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 01:10:35 PM PDT

  •  How about an omnibus nomination? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, bahaba, Greenfinches

    I remember we did something like that with the GOP Senator who personally blocked dozens of bills.

    Yes, DailyKos DOES have puzzles! Visit us here Saturday nights @ 5:00 PDT (easier puzzles) and Sunday nights @ 5:00 PDT (more challenging) for a group solving. Even if you just pop in and comment while watching the fun, everybody is welcome. uid:21352

    by pucklady on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 01:20:46 PM PDT

  •  You know I think they do not fill the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    embassies in African countries as a measure of protecting the security of ... ambassadors. Makes sense, doesn't it? The most efficient anti-terror preemptive move would be to not have ambassadors in all those "terrorist countries' embassies".

    The Senate is doing a heckuva job. Smart, simple and cost efficient. They deserve a pay raise.

    We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little. Manfred Max-Neef

    by mimi on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 02:37:02 PM PDT

  •  Many of the ambassadors pending (9+ / 0-)

    were approved out of Foreign Relations in late January/early February.   The vast majority are career Foreign Service appointees.

    The American Foreign Service Association, in a statement released today  says:

    An ambassador is the president’s representative abroad, and because of this – and their confirmation by the Senate – they are able to speak and act with the full authority of the U.S. government. He or she is the face of the U.S. and our foreign policy to both the government and people of host countries. There is no question that these positions matter: From supporting U.S. business and billions of dollars in trade overseas to addressing humanitarian crises and the needs of Americans abroad, the president’s personal representative abroad should reflect that we are serious about the business of diplomacy. AFSA believes that our lack of confirmed Ambassadors is crippling our global agenda – and global influence.

    As of today, there are 49 ambassadorial nominees awaiting confirmation in the Senate, many of whom have been waiting for over 10 months. Most of these individuals have been vetted and approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on bipartisan votes. A large majority of those waiting are career members of the Foreign Service – non-partisan civil servants whose only desire is to represent the U.S. abroad and carry out our policies.

    AFSA President Robert J. Silverman said, “Senator Arthur Vandenberg, former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, famously stated that ‘we must stop partisan politics at the water’s edge.’ We call on the Senate to heed his advice and put the best interest of the nation first.

    Anyone arguing that there's no difference between the parties is a fucking moron who can simply go to hell. -- kos

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 03:05:52 PM PDT

  •  We only have us Dems to blame for this one. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fordmandalay, gffish, koNko

    Did we or did we not get rid of the requirement for a super majority?

    Can we or can't we get rid if the super majority?

    This is the same shit we did before no one turned out in 2010.

  •  Reid can change this backlog of appointments, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fordmandalay, gffish, eztempo

    and it's on him that the backlog is as bad as it is. It's ridiculous to have allowed this.

    And hey, I'm a Democrat and Obama cheerleader. And I still say this is on Reid.

  •  The roadblock has been the Dems fault - they could (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fordmandalay, gffish, koNko

    have changed the rules long ago and have failed to take charge.  Sure the Repubs are to blame at some level, but blaming them is like blaming a wolf for killing a doe.  You really can't  - it's just what they do.  The Dems have enabled them.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 07:15:36 PM PDT

  •  You know...I've kinda MISSED signing endless (4+ / 0-)

    Petitions to Harry Reid asking him to change the filibuster rules! It's like a breath of air from 2011... and 2012... and 2013..........

    "What could possibly go wrong?" - United States Supreme Court Justices

    by Fordmandalay on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 07:20:13 PM PDT

  •  The GOP has only one mission: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies

    to bring down as much of the government as possible.
    They should change their name to the Anarchy Party.

  •  Their irrational hatred for this President (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    (he's a "the Negro") is one toke over the treason line.

    "the northern lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see. Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee". - Robert Service, Bard of the Yukon

    by Joe Jackson on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 07:35:04 PM PDT

  •  Cruz and McCain and the other Teabaggers can't (3+ / 0-)

    be on the Senate floor and CNN at the same time.

    Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:08:53 PM PDT

  •  "strongly worded op-ed"........BenBergdahlGahzi!!! (0+ / 0-)
    Secretary of State John Kerry, who warned in a strongly worded op-ed

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Fri Jul 11, 2014 at 08:20:00 PM PDT

  •  Reid's fault for sticking with rules that allow (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, eztempo

    the Republicans to slow things down.

  •  I'm all for clearing this backlog (0+ / 0-)

    Which hobbles the US as an actor in the international system, a serious problem since the USA is the nation with the largest economy and greatest military power, a position that needs to be tended for a lot of reasons.

    But the Obama Administration needs to do something else equally important to improve it's diplomatic efforts: to stop appointing poorly qualified candidates to strategic and critical ambassadorial posts, something equally damaging of US prestige and influence that telegraphs disregard for these nations.

    For example, Obama appointed Caroline Kennedy to Japan and Max Bacchus to China, the two most important posts in Asia where the Obama Administration has made policy blunders that need correction to improve relationships, a situation that calls for redoubled effort by experienced, qualified and capable diplomats in the role of ambassador.

    Regardless of what one thinks of the above Ambassadors personally, neither is particularly qualified for the posts they were appointed to: they don't speak the language, don't have any professional diplomatic experience and are not well-versed in the critical issues; their appointments were more a matter of political patronage or domestic politics than suitability to fulfill a mission. While this in not uncommon, the cases in point suggest better qualified appointees.

    Consequently, they both now appear rather hapless and out of their element, retreating to a ceremonial posture.

    I realize some people may react quite negatively to my criticisms above, but objectively, as much as I admire Kennedy as a person and recognize Baucus's length of service in Congress, neither has the CV or ability to function very effectively in their roles.

    Contrast that with the Japanese and Chinese ambassadors to the USA, both of whom have FP credentials and career accomplishments that justify their appointments.

    Notably, Baucus and Kennedy received unanimous support in their confirmations after softball confirmation hearings, which also suggests Senate confirmation is more political than substantial.

    Kerry might wish he had qualified ambassadors to depend on in hot spots like Ukraine and the Mid-East, but what of the quality of the nominees?

    No one is coming to save us, the future is in our hands.

    by koNko on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 03:58:33 AM PDT

  •  It is unconscionable.... (0+ / 0-)

    for republicans to hamper the US placing it's ambassadors  around the world.
    Their contempt for this President is such that they would put the country's diplomacy at risk, simply to be able to say that his diplomatic policies have failed.

    "These 'Yet To Be' United States" --James Baldwin--

    by kevinbr38 on Sat Jul 12, 2014 at 08:26:28 AM PDT

  •  If they're not on the floor, take their time away. (0+ / 0-)


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