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Explaining the Cracks in Ted Cruz's State Department Blockade

Cruz's State Department holds do not apply to career ambassadors. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

"I intend to block all nominees for the Department of State and hold any legislation that reauthorizes funds for the Department of State."  

That quote, from a July 16 letter from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to President Barack Obama sounded pretty straightforward. But, it turns out that career ambassadors are not State Department nominees, at least according to the 2016 Republican presidential hopeful.  

"The Senator is not holding any non-partisan, career, Foreign Service Officers. This clarification is not inconsistent with our previous statements on the matter," a Cruz aide said in an email on Wednesday.  

Asked last week about the status of Cruz holds on State Department nominees over concerns about the Iran nuclear agreement, there was no immediate response from the Texas senator's office. Eventually CQ Roll Call was referred back to the letter.  

"Under no circumstances should the Executive Branch take such action before the Congressional review process is complete. Thus, I ask that you provide written assurances that you will take all necessary steps to block any UN Security Council resolution approving the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] until the statutory timeline for Congressional review has run its course," Cruz wrote. "Until you provide such assurances, I intend to block all nominees for the Department of State and hold any legislation that reauthorizes funds for the Department of State."  

Nonetheless, the Senate did confirm ambassadors to places such as the Central African Republic and Gambia before departing for the Columbus Day recess, as well as the director of the Department of State's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons — not a nominee covered by Cruz's hold at the Department of State.

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