The United State doesn't have an ambassador in Guatemala right now, when it's at the heart of the border crisis as children flee the violence and instability there. On Thursday, the Senate had a chance to remedy that, along with a couple of dozen other diplomatic vacancies, when Sen. Robert Menendez asked for unanimous consent to fill them, moving all the vacancies in what used to be a pretty routine way in the Senate. Not anymore, because Republicans are still whining about filibuster reform.
Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., objected to the various requests from the New Jersey Democrat, referring to last November’s move by Senate Democrats to effectively change the rules using the “nuclear option.”They did eventually allow the vote for John Tefft to be the U.S. ambassador to Russia, a post that has been vacant since February. But it's not like Russia has been creating havoc or anything since February, so why worry about that? Or Guatemala, or the 59 vacancies in 186 posts around the world, which happens to be blowing up right now, in case they haven't noticed.
“We used to pass ambassadors and all kinds of people en bloc like that, but we have this nuclear option now that the majority chose so it takes a little longer to do that whole process, and on that basis, I object,” Enzi said. […]
“The majority leader … hasn’t chosen to bring these up in the normal order,” Enzi said. “Instead, asking to bring them up en bloc. My college roommate was a career ambassador, and I helped him get assignments and brought a lot of people through en bloc at the same time. But that was before we did the nuclear option.”
All of the nominees Menendez tried to bring to the floor Thursday have been approved by committee and only need floor votes to take their posts. Those floor votes will be almost uniformly unanimous, if Republicans ever let them happen. But Republicans don't want them to happen because they're still pissed that Senate Democrats exercised their right to help get some critical positions in government filled through last year's filibuster reform. The consequence for that has been Republicans doing every other thing in their power to bring nominations to a halt, primarily by insisting on "regular order" on each nomination, and then dragging out the maximum debate time on them, even though they fail to use that time for actual debate.
They have proven they're willing to continue this temper tantrum no matter what, no matter what's happening overseas, no matter how it hinders the United State's ability to navigate the myriad international crises we're mired in. And no matter what it does to the U.S.'s stature around the world. Their hurt feelings matter more than anything.