Senate Democrats are calling on Republicans to allow the confirmation of President Obama’s key national security nominees, arguing that stalling the process puts the country at risk.
“I think and hope and pray Republicans might be realizing their stalling national security nominations puts our country at risk and they are finally feeling the pressure to reverse course. People like Adam Szubin, Eric Fanning and many others should be engaged in the fight against ISIS, not fighting to get a vote in the Senate to get confirmed,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on a conference call.
“Thus far, Republicans in the Senate have stonewalled countless qualified nominees and it’s time for that blockade to end. We hope our Republican colleagues will do the right thing and move quickly to approve critical national security nominees so the tragedy in Paris doesn’t happen in the U.S.,” he added.
Fanning was nominated as Army secretary in September. If confirmed, he would become the first openly gay Army secretary.
Szubin’s nomination as the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes has been pending since last April.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Szubin’s nomination is particularly essential to the fight against ISIL and the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal.
“He leads the charge to choke off ISIL’s funding sources and to prevent it from developing additional capacities to strike more targets around the world,” Brown said. “It’s hard to imagine a job more important to protecting our own national security. He’s working to hold Iran to its commitments under the nuclear deal and to lead a campaign against a full range of Iran’s other destructive activities.”
Addressing Szubin’s nomination, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said, “Why in the world has he been waiting since April?”
She said the Senate should work on a bipartisan basis to make sure it is doing “everything possible” to keep America safe.
Others waiting for Senate confirmation include Thomas Melia for assistant administrator for Europe and Eurasia, Linda Etim for assistant administrator at USAID, David Malcolm Robinson for assistant secretary of Conflict and Stabilization at the State Department and Brian James Egan for legal adviser at the Department of State.
“We make our homeland safe by destroying ISIL – the terrorists who want to harm us. We keep our homeland safe by making sure we have the intelligence information to be able to track foreign fighters and make sure they cannot harm us. All of those are important,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “A critical part of this is having the individuals that have responsibility in confirmed positions that are before the United States Senate.”
Pending ambassador nominees include Azita Raji, who was nominated as Ambassador to Sweden in October of 2014, Roberta Jacobson, who was nominated as ambassador to Mexico in June of 2015, and John Estrada, who was nominated in July of 2013 for ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago.
“We have to have all hands on deck to deal with so many conflicts around the world,” Cardin said.
A spokesperson for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office told PJM there are no scheduling announcements on the national security nominees at this time.