Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is blocking all of President Joe Biden's nominees for the State Department, using procedural moves to get the administration to remove its waiver of sanctions connected to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline imposed by Congress earlier this year.
Only six candidates for State Department posts have been confirmed by the Senate, CNN reports, with as many as 60 pending in various stages. Cruz' office says he has blocked about a dozen so far.
"Sen. Cruz will use all leverage and perogatives he has as a U.S. Senator to get the Biden administration to follow the law and implement Congressional mandates to sanction and stop completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline," a statement from the Texas Republican's office said. "That includes holding all State Department nominations that the Biden administration and Senate Democrats have advanced to the confirmation stage.
"Currently that is about a dozen individuals."
CNN notes that other Senate Republicans have expressed their view that Cruz's efforts to lift the waiver, which was granted in an effort to improve relations with Germany, are "fruitless."
"I look forward to lifting the holds just as soon as they impose the sanctions on Nord Stream 2 that are required by federal law," Cruz told the news network.
He added that Secretary of State "Tony Blinken likes pointing out that the waiver of sanctions can be rescinded. He's right. And that's how they can get the holds lifted."
This caused a recent angry confrontation with the panel’s chairman, Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who said to Cruz during a committee business meeting last month: "Maybe it's your presidential aspirations, I don't know, but you're turning to political purposes. You held over every nominee. Every nominee! I've never seen that."
Cruz replied: "I did so for a policy that, Mr. Chairman, you used to support ... that the Biden administration has deliberately undercut and given a gift to Putin and Russia."
Congress imposed the sanctions on the company behind the Russian natural gas pipeline to Germany under the Baltic Sea and its chief executive in January. But Biden, who opposed the pipeline as vice president, waived those sanctions in May.
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