Two of the Republican "show ponies" accused of fomenting the Jan. 6 insurrection are now decapitating President Joe Biden's ability to protect national security, according to a new report.
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MO) have been blocking scores of nominees to critical national security positions in the Departments of Defense, State, Justice and Homeland Security, leaving the United States more vulnerable to attack, argued Daily Beast columnist David Rothkopf.
"Among the lessons we learned from the 9/11 Commission Report is the imperative of swift confirmation of a new administration's nominees, especially in the national security and foreign policy realm," said assistant Secretary of State and department spokesperson Ned Price. "Yet today, some 80 State Department nominees — including some of our most important posts — are pending before the Senate. Some of those have already been voted out of committee on a strong bipartisan basis and merely await a floor vote. The bottom line is that America needs its full team on the field if we are to confront challenges and seize opportunities most effectively. And, right now, we don't have that team at our disposal."
The 9/11 Commission found that only 57 percent of such positions were filled as of Sept. 11, 2001, while today only 26 percent of the new administration's appointees have been confirmed, including just one ambassador.
"That this is not more of a scandal is scandalous," said Loren DeJonge Schulman, vice president for research at the Partnership for Public Service. "The broken and deeply politicized Senate confirmation process made our country less safe then — the 9/11 attacks spotlighted that. It has worsened significantly since that time and it makes us less safe now."
"Our incredible body of federal civil servants is why this trend is an embarrassment, not a continuous disaster," Schulman added. "They serve admirably and responsibly no matter the season. However, there are real limits to the power, reach, authority, and effectiveness of acting officials. Many are performing multiple roles. There is no denying the 'substitute teacher' perception even with the most competent acting officials. Further, long-term utilization of acting officials — particularly when hampered by Senate inaction — actually ends up undermining Congressional oversight."
Cruz put a hold on 30 nominees until the Biden administration agreed to sanction the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project that will bring gas from Russia to Europe, and Hawley threatened to block all nominees until top officials resigned over the Afghanistan withdrawal.
"If an enemy of the United States wanted to decapitate America's national security leadership, they could hardly do a better job of it than Sens. Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley have by blocking scores of top nominees, leaving critical positions unfilled by the men and women the president of the United States has selected for those jobs," Rothkopf wrote. "The hypocrisy of criticizing Biden's foreign policy while they hobble it would be mind-blowing if it wasn't coming from two reckless partisans who egged on the mob that eventually stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6."