Philip Gordon: Snared in Senate Hold and More

Philip H. Gordon was nominated by President Obama to be Assistant Secretary of State for the EUR Bureau (European and Eurasian Affairs), to succeed Daniel Fried, who has since been appointed as Special Envoy for Guantanamo closure.

It does not look like his nomination is going anywhere right now. Below are the legislative actions on this nomination:

Floor Action: March 11, 2009 – Received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.

Committee Action:
March 26, 2009 – Committee on Foreign Relations. Hearings held.

Committee Action: March 31, 2009 – Committee on Foreign Relations. Ordered to be reported favorably.

Floor Action: March 31, 2009 – Reported by Senator Kerry, Committee on Foreign Relations, without printed report.

Floor Action: March 31, 2009 – Placed on Senate Executive Calendar. Calendar No. 40. Subject to nominee’s commitment to respond to requests to appear and testify before any duly constituted committee of the Senate.

He has been on that Executive Calendar No.40 for 28 days now. The Washington Post’s Who Runs Gov says that Gordon’s nomination has been held up (reportedly by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.)) because “Gordon is not willing to call the sustained Ottoman attacks on Armenians during and after World War I a genocide.(3) As a result, Gordon could not accompany Obama on his March 2009 trip to Europe. Foreign Policy’s The Cable reports that Gordon “had his bags ready to go,” but a last-minute hold kept his Senate confirmation vote off of the floor.(4) It is unclear when the Senate will now consider Gordon.”

Mr. Gordon is not the only one snared in the world of politics and senate holds. Remember career diplomat Richard Hoagland? He was nominated for the United States ambassadorship to Armenia on May 23, 2006. The Boston Globe reported then that “Armenians and their backers in Congress are trying to hold up the appointment of the man President Bush wants to succeed Evans, Richard E. Hoagland, who has declined to describe what happened as genocide.”

On September 12, 2006, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez issued a hold on the confirmation vote for Hoagland, stating that “if the Bush Administration continues to refuse to acknowledge the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide, then there is certainly cause for great alarm, which is why I am placing a hold on this nominee.” [2] On January 9, 2007 Richard Hoagland was renominated as ambassador to Armenia but the nomination was eventually withdrawn by the White House on August 3, 2007 [5]

On a side note — Evans was career diplomat John Marshall Evans
who served as US ambassador to Armenia, and who was reportedly recalled for using the word “genocide” in informal meetings with Armenian-American groups a couple or so years ago. He was also the awardee at the center of a big flap on a dissent award withdrawn by AFSA. On that AFSA had this to say:

AFSA did not present the Christian A. Herter Dissent Award this year. The AFSA Awards Committee, upon review of the original decision to confer the award on Ambassador John Evans, withdrew the award because the nomination did not meet the criteria for constructive dissent.

A story of many parts for sure … but you get the idea, kind of like the obstacle course in Untold Legends. And since there’s a hold on the Gordon nomination, can another one be far behind for whoever is going to be the nominee for US Ambassador to Armenia?

Related Post:

Officially In: Philip Gordon to the EUR Bureau

Related Item:

Testimony of Philip H. Gordon: Assistant Secretary of State-designate for the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs,Senate Foreign Relations Committee, March 26, 2009