The Senate on Thursday night eventually confirmed John Tefft to be the U.S. Ambassador to Russia late Thursday night, after an initial blocking of his confirmation by Senate Republicans prompted an unusually public outburst by a senior White House adviser.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sought Thursday night to confirm a bloc of 25 nominees to ambassadorships, including Tefft and the U.S. ambassador to Guatemala post.
On the Senate floor, Menendez asked for unanimous consent to bring the nominees up for a mass vote. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming) objected, something that drew the ire of Ben Rhodes, the White House’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications.
Rhodes fired off a spree of tweets aimed at Senate Republicans and congressional Republicans in general, who had earlier in the day crumbled bills in both chambers of Congress aimed at addressing the U.S.-Mexico border crisis. Rhodes blasted congressional Republicans for blocking Tefft’s confirmation while criticising President Barack Obama for being “disengaged” on the Ukrainian crisis.
Here are his tweets:
Whatever the case, something quickly changed. In the Senate’s last order of business before most of its members headed home for a five-week August recess, it confirmed Tefft’s confirmation by voice vote.
“Republicans figured they’d let one particularly important ambassadorial nominee go through in the hopes that it will relieve some of the building anger over their obstruction,” one senior Democratic Senate aide said.
The U.S. hasn’t had an ambassador in Moscow throughout the entirety of the Ukrainian crisis, which has produced the biggest thaw in U.S.-Russian relations since the end of the Cold War.
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