Senate Foreign Relations Chairman appears to slam Paul over block on State Department nominees

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman appears to slam Paul over block on State Department nominees

U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez issued a statement Thursday seemingly criticizing Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) blocking of votes on diplomatic nominees.

Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J) called out his fellow Republican committee members for “needless obstruction” in the statement, but specifically highlighted the “blatant refusal by one member” against the progression of “well-qualified nominees.”

Paul’s vote-blocking tactic is an attempt to gain information from President Biden’s administration on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I have made numerous offers to provide access to documents in the Committee’s possession and accommodate requests for information, but these attempts have been met with continued obstruction and further, more unreasonable demands,” Menendez said in the statement. “I refuse to let this Committee’s work be disrupted by such antics.”

Paul responded to Menedez’s comments through a statement provided to The Hill by his office.

“A million Americans died from COVID. The FBI, DOE, and many leading scientists have concluded that the virus likely leaked from a lab in Wuhan. USAID funded research in Wuhan and refuses to release documents from its $200 million PREDICT program. When they release the info, I’ll release the nominations,” he said.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote a letter to Senators Monday calling on them to allow the confirmation of the nominees and warning of the possible negative effects of the backup of the nominees’ confirmations.

“If the new standard is that career State nominees are subject to holds unrelated to the merits of their nominations, and must be individually confirmed by floor vote, then our leadership and standing in the world will suffer, with dozens of continuous vacancies that will take years to resolve, if ever,” Blinken wrote in the letter.

He added, “Our diplomatic strength will be weakened and competitors will gain at our expense.

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