World, Americas

US' Blinken urges Senate to act on nominee backlog with dozens in limbo

US President Joe Biden's pick to be Washington's new envoy to Turkey among dozens of nominees languishing in Senate

Michael Hernandez   | 02.08.2021
US' Blinken urges Senate to act on nominee backlog with dozens in limbo US Secretary of State Antony Blinken holds a press conference in West Jerusalem on May 25, 2021. ( US Embassy in Jerusalem - Anadolu Agency )

WASHINGTON

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the Senate on Monday to confirm dozens of nominees for diplomatic posts around the world, including the man US President Joe Biden tapped to be Washington's new Turkey envoy.

The plea to fill critical diplomatic roles comes as US Sen. Ted Cruz has for a month held up all diplomatic nominations from being taken up within the Senate in a so-far fruitless bid to get the Biden administration to impose sanctions on a pipeline that will transport gas from Russia to Germany and the wider European Union.

Biden has refused to impose the economic penalties, and struck a deal with Germany to assuage the US' largely geopolitical concerns over the pipeline. Nonetheless, Cruz – a Republican who has irked many in his own party as well as Biden’s Democrats – has continued his protest.

Blinken said the State Department has over 65 nominees who have been formally nominated, and are awaiting confirmation by the Senate. He expressed hope that within a week about 25 nominees will be pending a full Senate vote.

"These are critical national security positions," Blinken said at the State Department. "They include overseeing security in our embassies and facilities around the world, and helping clear the passport application backlog caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Biden on July 13 tapped former US Sen. Jeff Flake to be Washington's next envoy to Ankara, but the nomination has languished in the Senate alongside dozens of others.

Flake served in both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his time in Congress, which spanned nearly two decades.

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