State and Democrats call on Cruz to suspend key negotiations with Russia

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The State Department and Senate Democrats call Sen. Ted cruzRafael (Ted) Edward Cruz Sunday shows preview: Federal government criticizes social media over COVID-19 disinformation Issue: IRS funding blocks bipartisan infrastructure deal GOP senators urge Yellen to brief them the expiration of the debt ceiling, inflation PLUS (R-Texas) for suspending confirmation votes on key members of President BidenJoe BidenGraham says he would ‘leave town’ to stop .5T spending plan Afghan Ambassador, diplomats withdrawn from Islamabad Biden seeks to prove his skeptics wrong MOREthe national security team.

They particularly criticize Cruz for his hold on Bonnie Jenkins, whom Biden has appointed Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs.

U.S. and Russian officials are expected to meet on July 28 for the first strategic stability dialogue on nuclear non-proliferation talks, which was announced at Biden’s first face-to-face summit with the Russian president. Vladimir PoutineVladimir Vladimirovich Putin Where is “President Andrew Shepherd” when we need him? Putin escapes responsibility for chemical weapons use Kerry and his Russian counterpart pledge to tackle increasing climate change with “serious and urgent” MORE next month.

“[Jenkins] will be the top official participating in these talks and it is essential that we have a leader confirmed by the Senate … with this enormous responsibility, before these historic talks with Russia, ”said a State Department official.

Jenkins is one of twelve state candidates the department says Cruz is blocking – leaving him empty of senior officials involved in critical national security issues.

The dozen officials stranded so far include another deputy secretary post in addition to Jenkins, five assistant secretaries and six ambassadors.

“Senator Cruz said he was blocking them all,” a State Department official told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We are in regular contact with Senator Cruz to try to get him to negotiate a way out of this general grip and so far we have made no progress with him,” continued the official.

Cruz posted on Twitter that he is continuing to block nominations until the Biden administration imposes Congress-mandated sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which will allow Russia to deliver natural gas to the Germany and Europe.

The Biden administration in May issued a sanctions waiver against one entity and three people linked to construction of the pipeline, which is over 90% complete, in what the White House said was an effort to maintain good relations. diplomatic relations with Berlin and work to prevent the pipeline from becoming operational.

Cruz has said he will lift the deductions on the candidates when the penalties are imposed.

“I am taking advantage of the detention of candidates for the Biden administration to get the administrator to impose sanctions mandated by Congress to stop Biden’s multibillion dollar gift to Putin, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline,” he said. he tweeted last week.

Bypassing the holds would take precious time as the Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerPortman tears up ‘arbitrary Wednesday’ deadline on infrastructure Senate Republican says he can’t vote to open debate on infrastructure bill until he sees text Biden calls for passage of rights vote on the anniversary of the death of John Lewis MORE (DN.Y.) doesn’t want to use as it separately seeks to advance Biden’s infrastructure agenda. Getting around the Cruz Holds would be a multi-day process with each candidate.

Schumer recently had to take days to confirm Uzra Zeya as Undersecretary of State for Civil Safety, Democracy and Human Rights after being unable to secure a faster deal with the GOP.

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob menendezRobert (Bob) Menendez The World of Lobbying This Week: Congress Launches Summer Sprint The Innovation and Competition Act is progressive policy MORE (DN.J.) called the delay a “parody”. Twenty-four GOP senators ended up voting against her, including Cruz. Three others abstained in the vote.

A Senate Democratic aide said Republicans were intentionally targeting the president’s foreign policy team.

“The candidates for the national security at large, at this point, face an uphill battle in the committee and at ground level due to the minority position in exploiting the courtesy and the slowness of the process. with the aim of hampering the administration’s agenda, “an aide told The Hill.

Jenkins, like Zeya, has been favorably reported by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but no confirmation votes are on the Senate’s agenda.

Democrats’ frustrations with Cruz spilled over at a business meeting on June 24, when Menendez berated him for obstructing confirmation votes.

“Senator Cruz, this committee has a long history that you are blacking out, turning committee business into political ends. We have not had a history of this, ”the president said. “You picked all the candidates, I’ve never seen that.”

Jenkins is a recognized nuclear proliferation expert, qualified lawyer, scholar, military veteran and the founder of Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation (WCAPS), an organization dedicated to advancing national security professionals among minority women.

If confirmed, she will be one of the most senior African-American officials in the State Department – the only other being the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Linda thomas greenfieldLinda Thomas-Greenfield US-Russian cooperation expands access to key humanitarian passage in Syria UN warns of worsening famine amid conflict in Ethiopia’s Tirgay region Nikki Haley warns Republicans about China: “If they take Taiwan, it’s all over”.

Jenkins served in the Obama administration as the Threat Reduction Programs Coordinator with the rank of Ambassador, with primary responsibility for reducing the threat and risk from weapons of mass destruction.

Laura Kennedy, former Ambassador to Turkmenistan and veteran negotiator and expert on nuclear and biological weapons control, wrote in an email to The Hill that it “sends the wrong signal to our partners that we will not have our Under Secretary in place ”for nuclear talks with Russia.

Kennedy was one of 70 national security professionals who signed an open letter in June calling for Jenkins’ quick confirmation. The two women worked together on arms control under the Obama administration and served on the board of directors of the Arms Control Association.

Kennedy stressed the importance for the United States to have experienced negotiators in place for the Russian talks.

“[Russia’s] the tracks enter into talks knowing they have the full backing of their governments – why should the US catch up? Kennedy asked.

Jordain Carney contributed to this report.


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