Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who participated in the Republican presidential debate in Detroit Thursday March 3, remotely helped block the Senate from confirming President Obama’s ambassador to Mexico, thehill.com reports.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) sought unanimous consent to confirm Roberta Jacobson, who was nominated in June 2015. Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), who endorsed Rubio in November, objected on behalf of himself and the Florida senator.
Thursday’s maneuver marks the second time Rubio has blocked Jacobson’s nomination in the past month.
While there’s bipartisan support for moving Jacobson — who is currently the State Department’s assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere affairs — through the Senate, she’s drawn flack from some senators over her role in leading the Obama administration’s negotiations with Cuba to restore relations.
Udall suggested that “presidential politics” were bogging down the Senate.
“Their objection is with the president’s Cuba policy; we’re talking here about Mexico,” he added.
Rubio, a Cuban-American from Miami, has repeatedly criticized the president’s handling of Cuba, suggesting Obama is relaxing decades-old travel and trade rules without requiring political or human rights reforms in return.
He also wrote a letter to Jacobson earlier this year suggesting she and the administration had tried to hide information from Congress about a Hellfire missile being sent to Cuba after it was used during a European training exercise.
A State Department official told The Hill last month that Congress was briefed on the issue in February 2015.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) urged his colleagues on Thursday to allow Jacobson’s nomination to be cleared through the Senate after the Foreign Relations Committee approved it by a 12-7 vote.
“Our relationship with Mexico is far too important to let this post go vacant for any longer,” he said. “The longer we go without an ambassador there, the more this partnership will suffer.”
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