GOP Sen. Rafael Cruz (Ted), of Texas, singlehandly blocked the confirmation of dozens of State Department nominees on Wednesday morning and now they will they in limbo until next month when the Senate returns from its summer break.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) tried to get the nominations confirmed at the end of an all-night session before the Senate left Washington, D.C., until mid-September.
In a floor back-and-forth that lasted roughly 50 minutes, and wrapped just before 6 a.m., Menendez and then Murphy went one-by-one through the list of State Department nominees trying to get consent to confirm them. But each time they were blocked by Cruz, according to The Hill.
“I know the hour is late, but we have nearly 30 highly qualified foreign affairs and development nominees who are languishing on the Senate floor. We have to confirm these nominees to fully equip the United States to pursue our foreign policy objectives,” Menendez said as he kicked off the floor slog.
Cruz has been slow-walking the nominations until the Biden administration imposes sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will allow Russia to deliver natural gas to Germany and Europe.
The Texas senator said that he would lift his blockade, and let the nominees be confirmed, if the Senate passed legislation imposing sanctions over the pipeline. But Menendez objected to Cruz’s bill, noting it hadn’t gone through the Foreign Relations Committee, and Cruz, in turn, kept blocking Menendez and Murphy from being able to confirm the nominees.
The State Department and Senate Democrats have called out Cruz for holding up the confirmation votes on key members of Biden’s national security team.
“This place just becomes unworkable if every single senator holds up this many nominees over one particular policy disagreement. And this tactic will be utilized by Democrats when there is a Republican in the White House,” Murphy said, The Hill reports.
Cruz’s actions don’t prevent the Senate from eventually confirming the nominees, but Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) will be required to eat up limited floor time in order to do so.