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Senate Confirms Ambassador to Russia   08/01 06:24

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- After a period in limbo with a slew of other nominees to 
be U.S. diplomats around the world, John Tefft gained Senate confirmation 
Thursday night as America's new envoy to Russia.

   Sen. Mike Enzi didn't make it easy.

   When the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat Bob Menendez 
of New Jersey, sought approval of several diplomats in a single vote late 
Thursday, Enzi objected. That put off all those nominations just as the Senate 
prepared for its August recess.

   Enzi, R-Wyo., had been unhappy with the decision last year by Senate 
Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to limit filibusters for most presidential 

   In turn, blocking Tefft's confirmation made White House staffer Ben Rhodes 
unhappy. "How can people criticize the president for being 'disengaged' on 
Russia and then block the confirmation of an ambassador to Russia?" tweeted 
Obama's deputy national security adviser.

   A short time later, however, the Senate took up the nomination of Tefft and 
confirmed the career diplomat by voice vote. Ambassadors for Turkey, Guatemala 
and several other nations were left in limbo.

   In spite of Enzi's action, Tefft's confirmation was remarkably fast because 
the Foreign Relations Committee had cleared it only Tuesday. With his deep 
experience in eastern European affairs --- he had been ambassador to Ukraine 
under Obama and ambassador to Georgia under President George W. Bush --- Tefft 
himself had drawn little but praise as a nominee for the post in Moscow.

   Meanwhile, dozens of other diplomatic nominees await confirmation by the 
Senate, which will be on summer break for the next five weeks.


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