Back in November, President Obama nominated former president of National Council of La Raza and Arizona State University professor, Raul H. Yzaguirre, to serve as ambassador to the Dominican Republic on behalf of the U.S. Despite a devastating earthquake in neighboring Haiti and the fact that the Dominican Republic is home to the largest Caribbean economy, his nomination is still being stalled in the Senate by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Last night, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent Kyl a letter, obtained by ThinkProgress, asking him to release his hold on Yzaguirre’s nomination “without further delay”:
Earlier in her letter, Clinton reasons that Yzaguirre’s nomination has been held up “for reasons completely unrelated to his credentials or fitness to serve.” Indeed, the fact that Kyl is bitter over the fact that the Iran Sanctions Act doesn’t make the Iranian people as miserable as he would like them to be has little do with U.S. interests in the Caribbean. And, as Clinton notes, the Dominican Republic is “a significant trading partner” and “a major hub for our relief and reconstruction efforts in neighboring Haiti.” The U.S. embassy in the Dominican Republic has been without a permanent ambassador for over 18 months. An aide from Sen. Harry Reid’s (D-NV) office pointed out that, if his nomination does not go through tonight, the Dominican Republic will have to wait at least another five weeks until congressional recess is over to have an ambassador.
Republicans in Congress have both blocked and delayed a number of critical nominations over reasons that have nothing to do with the qualifications of the nominees themselves. This past fall, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) brazenly blocked the confirmations of Arturo Valenzuela, Obama’s nominee to be assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, and Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the nominee to be ambassador to Brazil over the Obama administration’s refusal to recognize the de facto Honduran government of Roberto Micheletti. Shortly after DeMint agreed to drop his opposition to Shannon, Sen. George LeMieux (R-FL) decided to further delay Shannon’s critical confirmation over the innocent role he played in initiating talks with Cuba on family migration and direct mail service.