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Hundreds of Biden Nominees Are Unconfirmed Amid G.O.P. Blockade

Hundreds of Biden Nominees Are Unconfirmed Amid G.O.P. Blockade
Written by publishing team

In July, President Biden announced that he intended to nominate Deborah E. Lipstadt, a noted Holocaust scholar, to lead a new State Department office tasked with fighting rising anti-Semitism around the world.

The decision was praised by more than 20 liberal and conservative Jewish groups, all of whom were impressed by Dr. Lipstadt’s excellent qualifications and reputation for standing up to anti-Semitism wherever she saw it, be it neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia. , or a liberal symbol in Congress.

However, nearly six months later, Dr. Lipstadt’s nomination is still in limbo, frustrated by Senate Republicans who complained that she criticized some of them on Twitter.

Dr.. Lipstadt is among hundreds of Biden candidates whose bids for confirmed Senate jobs have been scuttled by partisan dysfunction or personal taste. In a rare though not so glaring example of courtesy, members of both parties agree that the confirmation system is a contentious mess, in part due to what Senator Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican and minority leader, called “influence problems.”

The problem seems to be the worst of all. A year after Biden’s inauguration, only 41 percent of his nominees for confirmed Senate positions have been approved, according to a new analysis by the Public Service Partnership, a nonpartisan group that seeks to make the federal government more effective.

Biden, for his part, has released nominations at a faster pace than President Donald J. Trump, but slower than Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, according to the analysis. Regardless, it took the Senate an average of 103 days to confirm Biden’s nominees — about a month longer than in the Obama administration, about twice as long in the Clinton administration and about three times as long as it was under Reagan. .

“You’re seeing a broken system break down even more, and in an election year it’s not going to get any better,” said Max Steer, CEO of the partnership. “We need the Geneva Political Agreement, to distinguish between legitimate partisan differences and the destruction of our basic government infrastructure.”

Late last month, Senator Chuck Schumer, the New York Democrat and majority leader, agreed to schedule a potentially controversial vote on sanctions against the company behind Russia’s natural gas pipeline to Germany to please Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas. who have banned dozens of State Department candidates on the issue. Shortly thereafter, nearly 40 Senate nominations were approved, including Biden’s selection as US ambassador to China and Japan. But dozens of others are still stuck.

“The reality is that unprecedented obstruction by some Republicans is straining the system to breaking point,” Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J. and chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, said on the Senate floor last month, adding that the situation was forcing the president to act without The presence of critical national security officials, “leaving our nation weak.”

Graphs provided by a staff member of the committee’s largest Republican, Senator Jim Risch of Idaho, indicate that the committee has been moving faster on nominations than in the previous Congress, when Mr. Risch was chair of the committee.

But more than 15 other Senate committees have jurisdiction over some of the nominations. The slowdown extends far beyond preventing committee hearings on candidates.

Last month, Senator Tom Cotton, R-Arkansas, briefly declined to confirm five US defense candidates from Democratic-leaning states, Demanding in the Senate Chamber Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, first apologizes for his boycott more than eight months ago during the hearing. The Senate voted to confirm all five candidates shortly after Mr. Durbin’s apology.

This month, the White House resubmitted more than 100 nominations after the Senate postponed its December recess without taking any action on them. Some of those candidates have been waiting nearly a year to start working, including Delaware Syed, who was originally nominated in March as deputy director of the Small Business Administration. The Republicans’ stated objections to asserting Mr. Syed, who would be the highest-ranking Muslim in the federal government, include his work for an Islamist advocacy group. But they also indicated their opposition to the Small Business Administration’s decision to approve epidemiological assistance for abortion providers.

Biden also renominated Ed Gonzalez, the mayor of Harris County, Texas, to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement, having originally nominated him in April. Despite its crucial role in controlling the flow of migrants across the southern border, ICE has not had a permanent leader since 2017.

In this storm, the nomination of Dr. Lipstadt went.

The White House announced in late July that Dr. Lipstadt would lead an expanded office at the State Department focused on tracking and combating the rise of anti-Semitism abroad. For the first time, this role would receive the rank of ambassador, which would require Senate confirmation.

Last month, Mr. Risch declined to say when Republicans would agree to a hearing on Dr. Lipstadt’s nomination. Rich and other Republicans have hinted that the disruption has been linked to a tweet from Dr. Lipstadt about Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, who is also a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations.

In March, Johnson dismissed the January 6 Capitol riots, saying in a radio interview that he might have felt more threatened if the rioters were “Black Lives Matter and anti-corruption protesters” rather than Trump supporters who “love this country, and that’s really” respect law enforcement “.

Within days, Dr. Lipstadt chirp Link to an article on Mr. Johnson’s comments and added, “That’s white supremacy/nationalism. Simple and pure.”

Republicans are said to be considering asking Dr. Lipstadt to publicly apologize to Mr Johnson before allowing her candidacy to proceed.

Dr.. Lipstadt, 74, is Dorott Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies at Emory University, and founding director of the Emory Institute for Jewish Studies. Presidents of both parties recognized her scholarship and nominated her for leadership roles at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Dr. Lipstadt has written six books on anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial, and the Holocaust. In 1993, English writer David Irving sued her and her publisher, Penguin Books, for defamation in Britain, after she called him in one of her books one of the world’s most dangerous Holocaust deniers.

In 2000, Mr. Irving lost the case, in a ruling that was a sweeping indictment of himself and of Holocaust denial. Dr. Lipstadt documented the 10-week trial in her book History in Trial, which became the basis for the 2016 film Denial.

Dr. Lipstadt has a long history of using Twitter and other public forums to criticize politicians from both the right and the left. In 2019, Representative Ilhan Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, was heavily criticized for calling pro-Israel Americans “a political influence in this country that says it’s okay for people to pressure for loyalty to a foreign country.” Such statements are “part of the textbook accusations of Jews,” said Dr. Lipstadt for a reporter for the Jewish Insider.

Later that same year, after Mr. Trump dismissed white supremacy in a statement after the shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, Dr. Lipstadt told Jewish Insider that his words weren’t enough. “Although it was nice to hear him finally utter those words–white supremacy–the merging of this problem with mental health and gun control obscures the fact that white supremacy is among the primary, if not primary, factor driving these homegrown terrorists,” he said. .

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