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September 4, 2015

As Ted Cruz Lifts Hold, Diplomats Have a Chance at Confirmation (Video)

( Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

( Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

There’s a chance at least some of the ambassadors caught in a legislative holding pattern might be confirmed before the August recess.

While the process of filling the diplomatic corps has been slow in the aftermath of the “nuclear option” standoff last fall, Sen. Ted Cruz said Monday that he had withdrawn his more recent objection.

The Texas Republican had placed a hold on State Department nominees — a move with limited utility in the post-nuclear Senate where Democrats can break filibusters without any GOP votes. Cruz had placed the hold because of last week’s brief Federal Aviation Administration ban on flights by U.S. carriers to Tel Aviv, Israel.

“I appreciate the FAA’s efforts to respond to my questions, and so I have lifted my hold on State Department nominees. The hold was designed to force answers to important questions about why the Obama Administration had banned flights to Israel,” Cruz said in a statement. “Thankfully, in response to widespread criticism, the Administration has now reversed course and lifted its ban on flights to Ben Gurion International Airport.”

The Senate had begun to move through the process of confirming ambassadors, but it was not clear Monday whether a package of career foreign service officer confirmations would take place before August recess. Secretary of State John Kerry has been making the case for such a move both publicly and privately.

Over the weekend, The Washington Post reported on the plight of would-be ambassadors who have been living in limbo in apartments in Falls Church, Va., tied up in what was a predictable consequence of Democrats moving to effectively change the Senate rules last year.

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