Hawley lifts hold on Biden’s pick for NATO envoy, teeing up confirmation | TheHill – The Hill

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyRubio vows to slow-walk Biden’s China, Spain ambassador nominees One congressional committee is rejecting partisanship to protect state votes GOP digs in on blocking Biden diplomatic picks MORE (R-Mo.) on Thursday said he would remove his objections against President BidenJoe BidenFlorida Republicans vote to limit vaccine mandates Bill honoring 13 service members killed in Afghanistan heads to Biden’s desk Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon vows more airstrike transparency MORE’s pick for ambassador to NATO, lifting a key stumbling block in allowing her confirmation vote to proceed in the Senate.

Hawley had exercised a hold on Julianne Smith, requiring the majority leader to dedicate hours or days of floor time to force a recorded vote that could otherwise be achieved with a relatively quick voice vote.

An aide for Hawley said Smith could now receive a vote as early as Thursday. 

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Hawley said in a statement to The Hill that he lifted his hold following a letter sent by Smith to the senator pledging to press NATO allies to increase their defense spending.

“The two percent pledge made by NATO allies at Wales in 2014 is no longer sufficient. Today’s security environment is far worse than the one that confronted us in 2014, and our allies must increase defense spending accordingly. Julianne Smith recognizes that need and has committed to push our allies to beyond the Wales commitment,” Hawley said in the statement.

Politico first reported the move by Hawley.

The Missouri senator has holds on at least five other nominees, for multiple leadership positions in the State Department and one leadership position in the Department of Defense.

Hawley has called for the resignations of Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenThe Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by ExxonMobil – House Democrats eye big vote on Biden measure Rubio vows to slow-walk Biden’s China, Spain ambassador nominees US, China get chance for cool-down with virtual summit MORE, Secretary of Defense Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon vows more airstrike transparency Austin: Pentagon ‘must work harder’ after new report on civilian casualties Hillicon Valley — Presented by Ericsson — Hackers tied to Iran targeting critical sectors MORE and National Security Adviser Jake SullivanJake SullivanNational Security Council stresses ‘conversations’ with China, ‘not arms control talks’ Biden asks for probe of potential ‘illegal conduct’ on gas prices Rubio vows to slow-walk Biden’s China, Spain ambassador nominees MORE over their handling of the U.S. pullout of Afghanistan in exchange for lifting the holds.

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“I’m holding all leadership positions at the Department of Defense and the State Department and I intend to do so until there’s some accountability,” he told The Hill on Tuesday.

Having the U.S. Ambassador to NATO confirmed in the position is viewed as a national security imperative amid increasing Russian aggression — including Moscow’s buildup of troops on the border of Ukraine, concerns over maintaining delivery of natural gas, ongoing malicious cyber activity and the Kremlin’s support for Belarus’s illegitimate president Alexander Lukashenko and his campaign to destabilize Europe by funneling refugees from the Middle East over Poland’s border.

Democratic lawmakers and some Republicans are frustrated with the holds on Biden’s nominees. Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO’Rourke raises M in first 24 hours of Texas governor campaign Unsubscribe! The tyranny of political fundraising emails Rubio vows to slow-walk Biden’s China, Spain ambassador nominees MORE (R-Texas) has a blanket hold on all of Biden’s State Department nominees over his opposition to the administration’s Russia policy.

This amounts to about 50 people and could potentially include Smith. But Cruz has lifted specific holds before and said he would not exercise a hold on Biden’s nominee for ambassador to China.

Cruz’s office did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.  

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Hawley lifts hold on Biden’s pick for NATO envoy, teeing up confirmation | TheHill – The Hill

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