The Senate’s last-minute flurry of ambassadorial confirmations was no doubt better than gridlock for the American Foreign Service Association. That union has long complained of extended vacancies in key overseas posts due to Senate internal politics, and earlier this year took a rare position criticizing the Obama administration for nominating too many campaign donors with questionable expertise in the host nation.
In December, the Senate approved 14 ambassadors—among them envoys to Afghanistan and India—along with three key State Department leaders, including the new Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
But according to AFSA’s tally, that still left 12 ambassador nominees hanging after months in limbo, along with four candidates for senior State positions. (Hotel executive and Obama campaign donor George Tsunis, who waited 462 days with hope of being ambassador to Norway, told Newsday this month he is withdrawing.)
Here are those in limbo, along with their time in line:
|Nominee||Position||Date Nominated||Days Waiting||Home State||FSO or Appointee|
|John Estrada||Trinidad and Tobago||07/31/13||504||FL||Political (*)|
|George Tsunis||Norway||09/11/13||462||NY||Political (*)|
|Cassandra Butts||Bahamas||02/10/14||308||DC||Political (*)|
|S. Fitzgerald Haney||Costa Rica||07/09/14||161||NJ||Political (*)|
|Charles C. Adams, Jr.||Finland||07/17/14||153||MD||Political (*)|
|Mari Carmen Aponte||OAS||07/31/14||139||DC||Political|
|Sheila Gwaltney||Kyrgyz Republic||09/08/14||100||CA||Career|
|Paul A. Folmsbee||Mali||09/19/14||89||OK||Career|
|Mary Catherine Phee||South Sudan||09/19/14||89||CA||Political|
|Other Senior Officials Awaiting Confirmation|
|Nominee||Position||Date Nominated||Days Waiting||Home State||Career FSO or Political Appointee|
|Gentry O. Smith||Dir. Ofc of Foreign Missions||05/05/14||226||NC||Career|
|Jennifer Haverkamp||A/S Oceans Env’t/Science||09/08/14||100||IN||Political|
|Michele Thoren Bond||A/S Consular Affairs||09/10/14||98||DC||Career|
|Brian James Egan||Legal Adviser, State Dept.||09/19/14||89||MD||Political|
Those noted with an asterisk (*) have had their SFRC nomination hearing.