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Senate confirms two national security nominees before snow recess

Senate confirms two national security nominees before snow recess


Amid the brouhaha over Senators "holds" on Obama’s nominees, the Senate was able to confirm two national security related appointments Tuesday: Clifford Stanley and Philip Goldberg.

Senators were scrambling to finish business Tuesday evening as the snowstorm descended upon Washington and threatened to close down Congress for the rest of the week. Next week’s President’s Day recess would follow right after, so Tuesday was the certain last day available to clear any pending business.

Stanley is now clear to become the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness and Goldberg can now assume the post of assistant secretary of state for Intelligence and Research, the head of the INR bureau.

"The secretary of defense has been waiting for this, as I’ve indicated, for weeks and weeks… finally got that done," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV,  expressing his well-known frustration over the logjam of nominees due to holds.

Reid tried to "hotline" more nominations to clear the Senate before it adjourned, but only these two were able proceed without objections by the time Reid took to the floor to give his nightly closing remarks. Caryn Wagner, Obama’s nominee to become the top intelligence official at the Homeland Security Department, was also hotlined, but wasn’t able to be confirmed unanimously.

"What is that about?" Reid asked himself in his floor speech, "It’s about people trying to destroy our country… the most evil people in the world are coming, trying to do harm to Americans in our homeland. But… they’re holding him up because of something that no one really knows."

Reid called out Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn as being responsible for the Wagner hold, somewhat breaking protocol by naming the perpetrator of a "secret" hold.

"He was nice enough to call me and tell me," Reid said.

The nomination of Laura Kennedy is also being held up. Obama wants to give her Ambassador level rank ahead of her role as lead representative to the upcoming conference on disarmament.

Reid reiterated Obama’s threat to use recess appointment to get his choices seated if the Senate’s intransigence continues.

"I think, frankly, the president should recess all of them," Reid said.