On Dec. 16, a grave national security threat to the United States was resolved. On that day, Florida’s Republican Senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, lifted their blockade of Nicholas Burns’ confirmation to be U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. That’s right, this crisis was a home-grown threat created by members of Congress.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said in a statement to the Florida Political Review that the nearly year-long gap in having a permanent ambassador to China “has made it more difficult to coordinate actions with our allies and played into the hands of our adversaries.” It must also be noted that this situation came at a time when China is perceived to be the United States’ greatest rival.
Despite their claims of being pro-America and anti-China, Rubio and Scott have certainly aided China’s sinister aims more than any other Americans — especially shocking for members of Congress charged with guarding American national security.
Burns is one of the most qualified ambassadorial picks of the Biden administration. He served as a state department spokesperson, ambassador to the Hellenic Republic (Greece) and NATO, and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Burns received bipartisan praise for his performance in all of those jobs.
His eventual full Senate confirmation vote reflected this, as only 18 out of 50 Republicans voted against him. Everyone from progressive Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, to conservative firebrand Ted Cruz, R-Texas — who himself blocked dozens of ambassadors from being confirmed until recently — supported Burns.
Van Hollen, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy, excoriated obstructionist Republicans for their actions. Van Hollen understands foreign policy better than most. He has been intimately involved in foreign policy since his birth to a father in the foreign service and mother in foreign intelligence.
He noted that this is merely a small part of “Republicans’ unprecedented obstruction of the nominations process” to “prevent a host of key individuals from starting their jobs in a timely way.” He also criticized his Republican colleagues’ actions as “both counterproductive and damaging to our foreign policy.”
Republican obstructionism has come even as China has grown in strength. Continuing the practice of silencing critics of the regime, they even attempted to scrub tennis player Peng Shuai from the internet due to her criticism of a Chinese Communist Party official.
Meanwhile, the CCP recently granted the highest honors to Chinese President Xi Jinping, enthroning him in the pantheon of dictators, and putting him on a pedestal with mass murderer CCP Chairman Mao Tse-tung and the man responsible for China’s economic rise, dictator Deng Xiaoping.
This has ensured the continuation of Xi’s power, even as his genocidal campaign against the Muslim Uighur community continues. On the international front, more countries have fallen under the grip of the CCP’s insidious debt diplomacy. The CCP even took over Uganda’s airport and other key assets in a full show of their ruthless force.
Now, Burns’ delayed confirmation was not the decision of some new lawmakers. Indeed, Rubio is in line to become chair of the Foreign Relations Committee — should Republicans win control of the Senate in 2022 — while Scott is chair of Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, the NRSC.
This makes Rubio and Scott’s actions utterly unpatriotic and a disgrace to the people they are supposed to serve. They should feel ashamed, but instead they are treating themselves to a victory lap. Scott is patting himself on the back for demanding a floor vote (read: delay tactic), and Rubio is celebrating his passage of the Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
While this act is not a bad idea —cracking down on forced labor is something everyone can agree on — holding hostage a key piece of national security to pass a bill is, quite frankly, disgraceful.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism. He is one of the foremost advocates for restoring American leadership on the global stage.
In a statement provided to the Florida Political Review, he railed against the holdup of Ambassador Burns’ confirmation. He also noted the hypocrisy of Senate Republicans’ actions.
“It was absurd that some Republicans were arguing for a tough U.S. policy toward China while at the same time blocking confirmation of our U.S. ambassador there. It’s simple: it is in the United States’ national interests to have diplomats around the world to carry out policies that benefit our national security. I’m glad the Republicans holding up final confirmation finally came to this realization,” said Murphy.
Murphy provided further evidence of the strong support for Burns on Capitol Hill.
“There is strong bipartisan consensus that no one is better suited for this job, and I look forward to getting good work done with Ambassador Burns,” said Murphy.
Not explicitly stated was a criticism of the Senate’s ‘hold’ procedure, which allows a minority of one person to hold up confirmation of any number of nominees whom they do not support, for any reason whatsoever. It is clear, following this recent crisis, that this policy must be either reformed or scrapped, so no one person — Democrat or Republican — can hold America hostage.
In closing, we must remember former Sen. Arthur H. Vandenberg, R-Michigan. A distinguished foreign policy expert, he gave a celebrated speech in which he declared that politics should stop at the water’s edge. This formed the bedrock of American diplomacy during the Cold War and contributed to the U.S. emerging stronger than ever. We must heed Vandenberg’s advice, or the United States may very well find itself in grave danger in this new Cold War with China.
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Featured image: Marco Rubio (left) delivers a speech and Rick Scott (right) attends a meeting. Unmodified photo (left) taken by Gage Skidmore and used under a Creative Commons license (https://bit.ly/3lEqtmD). Unmodified photo (right) taken by Palacio do Planalto and used under a Creative Commons license (https://bit.ly/3JH19rg).