Rahm Emanuel is confirmed by the Senate to serve as an ambassador. Rahm Emanuel, the former mayor of Chicago and President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff, was approved as the United States’ ambassador to Japan early Saturday. The result was 48-21, with 31 senators voting against it.

Progressive Democrats have criticised Emanuel’s candidacy, noting his record as mayor of Chicago, particularly his handling of the 2014 police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Three Democratic senators voted against Emanuel’s confirmation: Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, and Jeff Merkley.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz has been refusing to enable expedited confirmation of diplomatic nominees for months in order to protest the Biden administration’s position on the Nord Stream 2 project. Cruz wants the government to toughen its stance on the huge pipeline that would transport natural gas from Russia to Germany beneath the Baltic Sea, believing that it will empower Russia and make Germany dependent on the nation. Some Republican senators, though, have voiced worry that the nominees’ delay will have an impact on America’s diplomacy and influence across the world.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, revealed an agreement early Saturday morning that Cruz’s proposal imposing penalties will be considered and voted on by mid-January.

The confirmation votes for Emanuel and others were part of a frenzy of action in the Senate in the early hours of Saturday morning before legislators adjourned for the summer.

Several nominations for significant posts in Asia and Africa were confirmed by the Senate, including Marc Evans Knapper as ambassador to Vietnam, Larry Edward André Jr. as ambassador to Somalia, Steven C. Bondy as ambassador to Bahrain, and Christopher John Lamora as ambassador to Cameroon.

Mark Gitenstein, a personal friend of Biden’s who worked as top counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee when Biden was chairman, was approved as ambassador to the European Union.
Julissa Reynoso Pantaleón, who most recently worked as first lady Jill Biden’s chief of staff in the East Wing, has been named ambassador to Spain.

The Senate also confirmed a number of judicial nominees, including Mary Katherine Dimke for US District Judge for the Eastern District of Washington, Gabriel P. Sanchez for US Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, and Holly A. Thomas for US Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit, becoming only the second Black woman and the first Black woman from California to serve on the Ninth Circuit.