Ted Cruz Blocking State Dept. Nominees Over Nord Stream 2 Causes 'Personnel Crisis' in Biden Admin
07:57 GMT 03.10.2021 (Updated: 13:24 GMT 06.08.2022)
Earlier this year, Ted Cruz argued that the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline would allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to "gain a stranglehold over Europe's gas supplies". Russia has repeatedly warned against politicising what it describes as a purely economic project.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz's drive to block dozens of State Department nominees over Nord Stream 2
has created a "personnel crisis" within the Biden administration, The New York Times
cited unnamed Democratic Party sources as saying on Saturday.
They were echoed by Democrat Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who asserted that Cruz's push is "really an undermining of the nation's national security process".
"What we have here is an unprecedented, blanketed holding of all nominees — regardless of whether they have anything to do with the policy issues at stake. That is not something I have seen in 30 years of doing foreign policy work in Congress. This is unprecedented", Menendez stressed.
He suggested that Senate Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) could call a weekend session to prod senators to spend their days off dealing with nominations.
"Ted Cruz and [Republican] Josh Hawley are not paying any consequences. But when members have to be here on a weekend, voting only on these things that are passing overwhelmingly in a bipartisan vote, I think peer pressure might be brought to bear", Menendez pointed out.
Hawley earlier threatened to block all national security nominees over the Biden administration's handling of the US troop exit from Afghanistan, calling for the resignation of Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin.
Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT), for his part, noted that "we can give him [Cruz] the benefit of the doubt that his goal is to micromanage US foreign policy".
According to Murphy, "this is not about his objection to Nord Stream 2. This is to get a lot of eyeballs from a fight with President Biden".
Ted Cruz on Senate Blocking Spree
This past summer, Cruz blocked the Senate's confirmation of 13 critical State Department jobs in an effort to pressure the Biden administration over its policy pertaining to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
The Republican also held up nominations regarding would-be US ambassadors to Somalia, Algeria, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, pledging to go ahead with the blocking drive in the future.
Cruz is reportedly using the holdup in an effort to make the Biden administration backpedal on its decision in May to waive sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the Switzerland-registered firm behind the pipeline's construction, and its CEO Matthias Warnig.
21 August 2021, 10:09 GMT
Secretary of State Antony Blinken
justified the waiver by saying that it was in the "national interest" of the US to keep the entity and Warnig unsanctioned. This came amid reports that Washington resisted sanctions against Nord Stream 2 AG to try to avoid souring ties with Berlin, the White House ally that has vocally defended the project in the face of US pressure.
A joint venture by Russia's Gazprom and five Western European energy concerns, Nord Stream 2 is a 1,230-km twin gas pipeline along the bottom of the Baltic Sea to complement the existing Nord Stream 1 network.
The already completed network is capable of transporting up to 1.9 trillion cubic feet (55 billion cubic metres) of gas per year from Russia to Europe, thus doubling Nord Stream's capacity.