President Obama appears ready and even eager for a fight over naming the first ambassador to Cuba in over 50 years, a move that would no doubt further poison his relations with Senate Republicans right after a thaw with the passage of two key trade bills.

After announcing the opening of embassies in Havana and Washington, the White House signaled Wednesday that it intends to nominate an ambassador and wouldn't mind a very public — and undoubtedly intense — debate over the issue.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration has yet to lay out a timeline for an announcement of an ambassadorial nomination but left the impression that Obama intended to move forward with one.

"I'm confident that [the Senate] would be a venue for robust debate about how the policy changes that the president announced back in December aren't just clearly in the best interests of the American people, they're clearly in the best interests of the Cuban people as well," he told reporters Wednesday traveling with the president on a trip on Air Force One.

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