WASHINGTON: The White House has blamed Republicans for delays in the confirmation of a long list of President Barack Obama's ambassador picks and said this logjam is putting US national security at risk.
"These crucial posts are vacant and American interests are therefore underrepresented. The longer we wait to fill these roles the harder it becomes to maintain our effective American diplomacy," US National Security Advisor Susan Rice said in a blog posting.
"Right now there are 48 nominees for ambassador that are pending, and 26 who are waiting on the floor and eligible for confirmation by the full Senate. The majority of those who are waiting are career Foreign Service officers," White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, said.
"These nominees have been waiting an average of 262 days, and these delays are simply unacceptable. It's time Republicans in the Senate ended their obstruction and allowed these qualified individuals to do their important work protecting American interests around the world," he said.
In fact, he said, there are currently 70 nominees to positions impacting national security, including officials at the Department of Defence, the State Department and other foreign-focused agencies pending in the Senate, he said.
"Unfortunately, because of partisan delays by Senate Republicans, these qualified nominees to critical national security posts have been forced to put their lives on hold and wait indefinitely to be confirmed," Earnest said.
He asked the Republicans in the Senate to stop playing political games and let these individuals get to work on behalf of the American people.
In her blog, Rice listed out some of the key Ambassadorial postings that need confirmation.
"Kuwait borders Iraq and is a vital strategic partner that requires the highest level engagement given the current situation. Yet our post there remains without an ambassador. Now more than ever, it is crucial that our ambassador to the State of Kuwait is confirmed," she said.
"In Africa, a quarter of our ambassadors are awaiting Senate confirmation. And in combating regional instability and serious challenges such as Boko Haram, key partners including Niger, Cameroon, and Mauritania - as well as our delegation to the African Union - need ambassadors in place now," she wrote.
"I am focused every day on keeping our country secure and our citizens at home and abroad safe," said Rice.
"These goals are hindered and our stature abroad is weakened when we are not fielding a full team," she said.
The Economic Times