GOP senator holds up key Obama nuke envoy
The Obama administration’s choice as envoy to an upcoming conference on disarmament can’t get confirmed as her nomination gets tied up with other nonproliferation issues, an administration official tells The Cable. The Senate cleared almost 30 nominations on Feb. 11 after Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, backed off his "blanket hold" due to public pressure, but ...
The Obama administration's choice as envoy to an upcoming conference on disarmament can't get confirmed as her nomination gets tied up with other nonproliferation issues, an administration official tells The Cable.
The Obama administration’s choice as envoy to an upcoming conference on disarmament can’t get confirmed as her nomination gets tied up with other nonproliferation issues, an administration official tells The Cable.
The Senate cleared almost 30 nominations on Feb. 11 after Sen. Richard Shelby, R-AL, backed off his "blanket hold" due to public pressure, but Laura Kennedy, whom Obama wants to make an ambassador-level U.S. envoy to the April conference, was not among them. Her nomination is being held up by Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-AZ, who is using the issue to bargain for items related to the START follow-on treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, according to the official.
"Kennedy’s position has nothing to do with those items," the official complained.
Intensive negotiations conducted by Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs Richard Verma have failed to yield an agreement. Kyl is asking for unfettered access to the executive branch’s negotiating record on CTBT, which no administration has ever provided, as well as access to more information on the ongoing START negotiations, according to the official.
"He will have every chance to scrutinize START when it is submitted for ratification. His pleas for info now are a transparent effort to kill the negotiations," the official said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, alluded to the reasons behind Kennedy’s stalled nomination in a floor speech Feb. 9.
"It is too bad the United States of America, a nuclear power in the world, does not have a representative of ambassadorial rank to represent the United States at disarmament conferences," Reid said. "Why it is being held up has nothing to do with her qualifications or background. It is some other reason."
"For the past several months, Senator Kyl has made requests with the State Department to provide information relating to START and the Iran Sanctions Act," a Kyl aide said. "For some reason they’ve been reluctant to respond. Consequently, Senator Kyl is reluctant to consider their nominees."
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin
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