Republicans, and some Democrats, are growing increasingly frustrated with the molasses-like movement of key diplomatic confirmations in President Trump’s administration.
“It’s time to end this partisan spectacle. We have 78 more nominees for various jobs who’ve made it through their committee hearings and are waiting for a vote on this floor,” Republican Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming said last week.
“Most of these people have bipartisan support, they can be confirmed easily.”
The Senate has a rule that requires 30 hours of debate per nominee and Barrasso wants to change that. Republicans believe that rule has allowed Democrats to slow the nomination process down to a trickle.
Barrasso aims to limit the number of hours of discussion to eight. Under the Obama administration Democrats supported a similar measure.
“It’s time to return to the rules for debating nominations that the Senate used four years ago … Democrats controlled the Senate at the time – and a Democrat was making the nominations, that was President Obama,” Barrasso said.
One nomination in particular has gathered intense scrutiny in recent weeks. Richard Grenell, a conservative, openly gay foreign policy expert, was nominated by President Trump as ambassador to Germany last year, but remains in Washington limbo.
Grenell’s seemingly uncontroversial nomination has nonetheless been stymied by congress despite having recently garnered the support of a liberal gay rights group, the Harvey Milk Foundation, reports Fox News.
“I understand those who are frustrated with the Trump administration and the actions the Trump administration has taken,” co-founder Stuart Milk told the New York Times. “And I think that’s misguided.”
In response to the escalating unrest over Grenell’s stalled confirmation, Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell last week called for a unanimous voice consent to push the nomination through.
Some Democrats objected, like Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, who cited Grenell’s Twitter account as showing “a complete disregard for the Senate confirmation process.” #ConfirmGrenell has been a popular hashtag on Twitter for Grenell’s supporters.
“Mr. Grenell, a Harvard-educated experienced diplomat, was the longest-serving U.S. spokesperson at the United Nations. He was nominated in September of last year. He was reported out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with bipartisan support. He is waiting to represent America’s interest and be our country’s top voice in a G-7 country,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last month at a briefing.
The “hyper-political delay on Mr. Grenell puts our national security and America’s foreign policy interests in jeopardy,” she added.
Germany, Europe’s economic powerhouse, is also a G7 nation and the world’s most influential non-nuclear nation.
Even some Democrats have reluctantly come on board to see Grenell’s speedy confirmation. Last week Delaware Democrat Christopher Coons, who is on the Foreign Relations Committee, told Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, the confirmation process represents a “significant problem,” acknowledging the Senate has not confirmed ambassadors to 25 key nations, including South Korea and South Africa. He singled out Grenell’s case by saying, “This one’s dragged on for too long.”
“The vacancy in Germany has gone on just far too long. And I’ll be glad to press for Grenell to get a vote, because we shouldn’t have a country as significant as Germany, we shouldn’t have any country without an ambassador, but that’s a major European power,” Coons said.
feature image via RichardGrenell.com
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Chadwick Moore is a journalist, political commentator, and editor-in-chief of DANGEROUS, currently working on his first book. He tweets at @Chadwick_Moore.