These days, obstruction by the Democrats grabs the biggest headlines when they prevent solutions to the biggest issues – immigration, Supreme Court appointments, infrastructure, and so on – but their obstruction is actually the most egregious when it’s at its most petty.
Confirming U.S. ambassadors should be one of the least political things the U.S. Senate does. For most of the country’s history, the process was a mere formality – a president would pick people to serve as America’s chief representatives to countries around the world, and those nominees would almost always be confirmed by voice votes, with little if any debate. It’s a basic courtesy to the president, but, more importantly, it’s a simple recognition that America should be represented by a duly-appointed ambassador in every country with which we have a formal diplomatic relationship.
As it turns out, one of the unifying principles for the Democratic minority in the Senate under Chuck Schumer’s leadership is its obstruction of ambassadorial appointments employed in frustration over the fact that Hillary Clinton isn’t the one making those nominations. Therefore, they’ve made even this basic, uncontroversial duty into a political football by subjecting the nominees to the tedious and time-consuming process of holding individual votes, delaying some appointments for more than two years.
America’s diplomatic objectives – including those in some of the regions most critical to our foreign policy – are being hampered so that Chuck Schumer and the other Democrats can impress far-left donors and activists with how well they’re “resisting” President Trump.
Schumer and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., one of his fellow Democrat obstructionists, worked overtime to delay for eight months the confirmation of Richard Grenell, the U.S. Ambassador to Germany. Within three months of assuming his post in Berlin, on orders from the president, Ambassador Grenell secured Germany’s consent to accept the deportation of the last known Nazi war criminal living in the United States. Menendez, with Schumer’s support, effectively bought eight months of precious American freedom for a Nazi war criminal.
You would think that situation alone would be enough to cause the Democrat "resisters" in the Senate to rethink their petty tactics. Sadly, though, their embarrassing obstruction has not only gotten worse but has become a direct threat to our national security.
Take, for instance, Libya, a country that has been chaos for years now, is currently without an ambassador, a role that is crucial to bringing stability to the war-torn nation. We are also without ambassadors in Morocco, Egypt and the UAE, three countries that are vital to helping resolve the current conflict in Yemen. The lack of American diplomats in these countries could have truly dire consequences in the region.
Even right in our own backyard, the U.S. embassies in Jamaica, Barbados, and the Bahamas all lack Ambassadors from the United States.
When you dig into the data, the game Schumer is playing looks even more recklessly irresponsible. The last four U.S. ambassadors to Morocco were confirmed in an average of about three months. David Fischer, who received President Trump’s nod to take up that post in December 2017, is still waiting. He didn’t even get a hearing for the first 10 months, and since then, Democrats have continued to delay a confirmation vote, even as our friends in Morocco bemoan being relegated to a mere charge d’affaires for more than two years.
Even a former member of Congress such as Kenn George of Texas has been denied confirmation as out ambassador to Uruguay since April 2018 – a longer wait than the last five nominees to that post combined.
The most outrageous delay of all, however, has been the one imposed on Doug Manchester, the eminent businessman and philanthropist my father nominated to serve as our ambassador to the Bahamas more than two years ago, in May 2017.
In some ways, this sort of seemingly-petty obstructionism is even more nefarious than the big-ticket stuff, such as shutting down the government to prevent funding for a border wall or slandering Justice Brett Kavanaugh in a failed effort to keep him off the U.S. Supreme Court. Those ploys, because of their importance, entailed a serious political cost. They dominated the headlines, which in turn got Americans to become aware, involved, and outraged.
Ambassadorial nominations are different. They are so historically uncontroversial and figure so little into the major political narratives in our country, that very few people even pay attention to them. Chuck Schumer knows that he can clog up the legislative agenda by forcing unnecessary individual votes, and he doesn’t care how much damage his obstruction of these vital appointments might do to American diplomacy.
This Senatorial pettiness is yet one more example of presidential harassment by the Democrats. Their obstruction, in this case, may not capture as many big headlines, but it is nonetheless harming U.S. relations with nations around the world.
Gone are the days of Senatorial courtesy. Democrats today have held up numerous qualified nominees simply because they were nominated by President Trump. It is up to Republicans to realize that we aren’t dealing with people willing to negotiate in good faith, but are rather dealing with stone-cold obstructionists hell-bent on "resisting" the president at every turn.
Enough is enough. There is a near-term solution, but it will require a display of political courage equal to the magnitude of the issues that we face as a nation. The Senate is getting ready for its annual August recess. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should cancel the recess until every one of the president’s ambassador nominees are brought to a voice vote, as has been the custom in America for over 200 years.
Leader McConnell and the Republican majority in the Senate must stand up to the rampant obstruction coming from the resistance Democrats and fight to ensure that my father’s nominees are all given an up or down vote immediately. Then we can move on to address the next round of obstruction from the Democrats.