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GOP Senators Delay Key Arms-Control Appointment at State

By Diane Barnes

Global Security Newswire

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), left, confers with Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) during a 2012 Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing. The lawmakers asked to delay panel votes scheduled for this week on approving two State Department arms-control appointments. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), left, confers with Senator James Risch (R-Idaho) during a 2012 Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing. The lawmakers asked to delay panel votes scheduled for this week on approving two State Department arms-control appointments. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A U.S. Senate panel this week delayed voting to confirm a key State Department arms-control nominee challenged by GOP lawmakers over U.S. nuclear policy.

At the request of Republican Senators Marco Rubio (Fla.) and James Risch (Idaho), the Senate Foreign Relations Committee postponed a vote to approve Rose Gottemoeller's appointment as undersecretary of State for arms control and international security, panel Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said on Wednesday.

The GOP lawmakers also held up a vote to confirm Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Space and Defense Policy Frank Rose to fill Gottemoeller's vacated role in overseeing treaty verification and compliance at the department.

Menendez pledged to put their names forward again after the Senate returns from recess later this month.

The panel endorsed both appointments last October, but they require re-approval because Senate Democrats have altered the chamber's confirmation rules since that time through the so-called "nuclear option."

One issue expert linked Rubio's request for the delays in part to Gottemoeller's refusal "to be pinned down" during her confirmation hearing on the Obama administration's stance on potential new nuclear-arms reductions.

"What Rubio is doing on these nominations and what other Republicans are doing on other nominations is slow-walking them," John Isaacs, executive director of the Council for a Livable World, told Global Security Newswire on Friday.

"We need to get these people to be moved," Menendez, speaking at his committee's Wednesday business meeting, said regarding his support for advancing the pending nominations. "We cannot ... move forward on some of these critical [areas] of arms control and international security and verification and compliance without having people in those positions."

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