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Blinken condemns GOP senators blocking diplomatic nominations over abortion, transgender healthcare

A handful of senators is obstructing the affirmation of dozens of extremely regarded Biden administration ambassadorial appointments over largely partisan points having nothing to do with the nominees’ {qualifications}, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken mentioned Monday.

In an uncommon head-on confrontation with Congress, Blinken complained that motion by some senators is crippling the power of the US to undertaking its affect on the worldwide stage, stifling the U.S. voice in important nations within the Center East and Europe through the raging battle in Ukraine and undermining nationwide safety.

The diplomatic delays come as a whole bunch of U.S. army promotions — together with the appointment of the commander of the Marine Corps, leaving an appearing chief in cost for the primary time in additional than 100 years — blocked by a single Republican senator from Alabama, former soccer coach Tommy Tuberville. He objects to the Protection Division’s efforts to supply reproductive and gender-affirming care to service members.

“By failing to substantiate these nominees, a handful of senators are retaining our greatest gamers on the sidelines,” Blinken mentioned.

In feedback Monday to journalists and in a letter to senators, Blinken mentioned that whereas the appointment of profession overseas service officers to key diplomatic posts is normally all however professional forma, and that 170 had been confirmed within the first two years of the Biden administration, solely 5 ambassadorial assignments have survived this 12 months, leaving 38 languishing. Greater than one other 20 lower-level appointments have additionally stalled.

“Vacant posts have long-term adverse impression on U.S. nationwide safety, together with our potential to reassure allies and companions and counter diplomatic efforts by our allies,” Blinken mentioned within the letter, citing aggressive campaigns by China to submit massive diplomatic missions all through Africa and Latin America, the place Beijing’s financial affect is increasing exponentially. China and Russia have benefited most from the Senate stalling, Blinken mentioned.

Blinken pinned many of the blame on Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who issued a blanket maintain on appointees over his calls for for paperwork involving the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whereas Paul is entitled to hunt paperwork, “what we object to is him holding hostage nominees,” State Division spokesman Matthew Miller mentioned.

On the present tempo, Blinken mentioned, prime postings as essential as these in Israel and Egypt could sit vacant by the top of the summer time.

“Nobody is questioning the {qualifications} of those profession diplomats,” Blinken mentioned in a media briefing on the State Division. “They’re being blocked from leverage on different unrelated points. It’s irresponsible, and it’s doing hurt to our nationwide safety.”

Congressional Republicans wish to subpoena Blinken to drive him to show over inside cables coping with Afghanistan. A so-called dissent cable, whereby diplomats voice variations with U.S. coverage, exists in relation to the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. The State Division has supplied its contents to congressional investigators, however some lawmakers wish to see the unique doc.

In the meantime, Tuberville has been blocking vital promotions in the united statesmilitary for weeks over the Protection Division’s progressive well being insurance policies, together with reimbursement for service members who should journey for abortions, in addition to for gender-affirming healthcare. It’s estimated that by the top of the 12 months, he can have blocked greater than 600 appointments.

The army sees these steps as methods to keep up an inclusive armed companies. However opponents like Tuberville and his GOP allies say U.S. taxpayers mustn’t pay for the applications.

“[The military] needs to be shopping for the weapons that we have to defend our nation and to assist our troops,” Tuberville ally Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) advised Fox Information over the weekend.

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