The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved the appointment of Thomas R. Nides to the post of United States ambassador to Israel, a move that brings him one step closer to final confirmation.
Nides was one of 33 nominees to various positions the committee approved in a bloc vote. That list now moves over to the full Senate for confirmation.
The committee “held, over the request of members,” the nominations of Barbara Leaf to the post of assistant secretary of state for Middle Eastern affairs and that of Atul A. Gawande to the role of assistant administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.
According to the news website Politico, Republic Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was behind the delay in Leaf’s nomination because he was unsatisfied with her responses to his request that she clarify her position on a range of Middle East policy issues, including on Iran and Israel.
Cruz, according to Politico, has also threatened to delay a Senate vote on the nomination process for the 33 candidates confirmed Tuesday by the committee.
At Tuesday’s committee meeting, Cruz expressed his opposition to the Nides appointment but did not block its advancement, as he did with Leaf.
Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said, “Senator Cruz’s objection to Barbara Leaf has nothing to do with her qualifications. It’s just more political grandstanding that leaves America vulnerable without a top diplomat in the Middle East.”
Nides, who is Jewish, is a native of Duluth, Minnesota. He is the managing director and vice chairman of Morgan Stanley and was the State Department’s deputy secretary of state for management and resources from 2010 to 2013.
Leaf was a former US ambassador to the United Arab Emirates and served as deputy assistant secretary of state for the Arabian Peninsula in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs.