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Career @StateDept Nominees Remain Stuck in Senate Confirmation Purgatory

Posted: 12:15  am ET

Senators hope to rename some more streets?

President Obama’s nominations of eight career diplomats for ambassadorships and one development professional for an assistant administrator position for USAID remain stuck in the Senate as of Friday, May 13, 2016. The nominee for Ambassador to APEC has now waited for over 220 days. The nominees for the Marshall Islands and Micronesia have each waited over 190 days.

The Senate’s second session calendar is getting shorter. It will be on recess from May 30 – June 3 (Memorial Day); July 1 – 5 (Fourth of July); July 18 – September 5th (reconvene Tuesday September 6);  and has the target pre-election adjournment on October 7th.

This has now become the new normal.  Even non-controversial career diplomats routinely get stuck for months in confirmation purgatory.  What crises would nudge these senators to confirm these nominees? Wasn’t there a U.S. airstrike west of the Somali capital of Mogadishu this past week?  A coup somewhere? A hurricane?

Maybe some senators hope to rename some more streets in exchange for the confirmation of these ambassador nominees?

This must be laughable to look at from overseas. Here is the United States, a global power, and this is how our Senate functions; must be quite simply the envy of the world 🙃.

But in this article about Merrick Garland’s nomination for SCOTUS, part of “Confirmations: The Battle Over the Constitution,” and also relevant to ambassador-rank appointments, the author Michael D. Ramsey — a Professor of Law at the University of San Diego School of Law and a former judicial clerk for Justice Antonin Scalia — notes:

The relevant text is the appointments clause of Article II, Section 2, which provides: “[The president] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States…” This language makes the Senate’s consent a prerequisite to presidential appointments, but it does not place any duty on the Senate to act nor describe how it should proceed in its decision-making process. Even if the word “shall” in the clause is read as mandatory, “shall” refers only to things the president does. Instead, the Senate’s core role in appointments is as a check on the president, which it exercises by not giving consent—a choice it can make simply by not acting. 
[…]
The Senate’s practice, under both Democrats and Republicans, shows that it thinks the appointments clause does not impose a duty to take formal action.

It remains to be seen if these executive nominees will survive the Senate obstacle course this year.

The 2016 Election Day is in 175 days.

PN933 | Robert Annan Riley III, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federated States of Micronesia

PN934 | Karen Brevard Stewart, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Marshall Islands

PN895 | Matthew John Matthews, of Oregon, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as United States Senior Official for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum.

PN1041 | Adam H. Sterling, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Slovak Republic.

PN1054 | Kelly Keiderling-Franz, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

PN1055 | Stephen Michael Schwartz, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Somalia.

PN1154 | Christine Ann Elder, of Kentucky, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Liberia.

PN1155 | Elizabeth Holzhall Richard, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Lebanese Republic.

PN1139 | R. David Harden, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

 

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