Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Cruz Threatens to Delay State Department Nominees Over FAA’s Israel Flight Ban

(Tom William/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Tom William/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Ted Cruz announced late Wednesday that he would hold up State Department nominees over a moratorium on U.S. flight traffic to Tel Aviv.

As a practical matter, the move by the Texas Republican may not mean much, since a slew of ambassador nominees are already tied up in an existing logjam. Secretary of State John Kerry has been working the phones in an attempt to get diplomats through to confirmation.

Still, Cruz has taken umbrage with the State Department’s initial public response to his questions about the Federal Aviation Administration announcement.

“Serious questions were asked about the nature of a decision that handed Hamas a public relations victory and will cost Israel billions of dollars,” said Cruz. “The only thing ‘offensive’ about this situation is how the Obama Administration is spurning our allies to embolden our enemies; the only thing ‘ridiculous’ is the administration’s response to basic questions. Until the State Department answers my questions, I will hold all State Department nominees.”

Cruz was responding to a comment made by State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf calling the Texas senator’s initial suggestion of an Obama administration “economic boycott” of Israel “ridiculous and offensive.”

In the post “nuclear option” Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., can work around holds with just a simple majority, but has to use up valuable floor time. That’s something he’s done on no shortage of nominees already, but Reid’s fast running out of runway before the August recess.

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