Senate confirms first Biden ambassador but others blocked

Washington – The US Senate on Wednesday confirmed the first of President Joe Biden’s ambassadors to foreign capitals, approving his pick for Mexico, but a slew of other nominees were held up by Republicans.

The Senate, in a marathon session before an August recess, approved Ken Salazar, a folksy, Spanish-speaking former Democratic senator known for maintaining good relations with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Salazar’s confirmation, through a unanimous vote alongside other nominees, partly broke through a logjam set by Senator Ted Cruz, a prominent Republican and fierce critic of Biden.

Cruz has sued procedural tactics to stall Biden’s nominees because he opposes the waiver of sanctions over Nord Stream 2, a gas pipeline being built from Russia to Germany that the United States and Eastern European nations fear will embolden Moscow and weaken Ukraine.

The Biden administration shares the concerns but argues that the pipeline was nearly complete when it took office. It has instead reached an agreement with Germany that includes boosting support for Ukraine.

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