Senate Foreign Relations Chairman criticizes Senator Rand Paul for delaying nominations

WASHINGTON — Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez has scathingly chastised Senator Rand Paul’s decision to block more than 60 State Department candidates as Paul seeks information from the Biden administration about the origins of Covid-19.

The statement, first obtained by NBC News, does not mention Paul, R-Ky., by name, but it calls a member’s “flagrant refusal” to nominate candidates “unacceptable.”

Menendez, DN.J., said Paul’s decision “jeopardizes our country’s national security and global influence.”

“I call on members of this body engaged in blanket refusals to confirm candidates to stop playing games with our national security. This only undermines our national security and our ability to compete with the PRC,” Menendez said in the statement, using the abbreviation People’s Republic of China.

Paul blocked State Department applicants in an effort “to gain access to COVID-19 documents held by various government agencies that fall under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Relations Committee,” a spokesperson for Paul said.

The spokesperson said Paul would oppose the candidates unless Menendez “stops hampering oversight efforts.”

Menendez said in his statement that strengthening “the diplomatic position of the United States around the world, maintaining competitiveness against the PRC, and disrupting Beijing’s growing diplomatic advantage are all goals that should share broad bipartisan support in the Senate.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this week that the delays “compromise our national security”.

Paul responded to Menendez’s statement Thursday afternoon, saying there were still documents he wanted released by the U.S. Agency for International Development and that the documents he had access to were only available to him privately, telling NBC News, “I am not authorized to remove these documents.”

“I actually like to endorse ambassadors. I’ve almost never blocked ambassadors. I’ll let them all go, but it will take a little cooperation,” Paul said.

Blinken said this week that 38 of the 62 nominees in the nomination process have passed all other stages and are awaiting Senate confirmation and that 35 of the 38 are career foreign service officers, some of whom have hung around the Senate for more than 18 months.

“I respect and appreciate his critical watchdog role. Making sure we have highly qualified people representing the United States around the world is crucial. But that’s not what’s happening here,” Blinken said Monday. “No one is questioning the qualifications of these career diplomats. They are locked in for leverage on other unrelated issues. It is irresponsible and it harms our national security.”

Blinken added that his team worked “intensely” with Paul.

“We have provided the documents and other information he requested. But unfortunately he continues to block all of our applicants,” Blinken said.

This article originally appeared on

Leave a Comment