Minority Leader Harry Reid opened the Senate's week by blasting Iowa Republican Sen. Charles E. Grassley for a blockade on ambassadors over former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's emails.
"Many of these foreign service officers are always ready to serve at a moment's notice in hot spots throughout the world. Hot spots like Iraq and Afghanistan. They're not partisan. They're diplomats," Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in a floor speech. "That's why it's troubling to see the senior senator from Iowa politicize these promotions." In a Monday afternoon statement responding to Reid's remarks, Grassley, the Judiciary Committee chairman, said he is holding 22 State Department nominees over unanswered questions about State's personnel rules and its policing of potential conflicts of interest.
"My staff has been working with the State Department to try to get the information I requested, including complete answers to inquiries from June 2013," Grassley said. "Ironically, if the State Department had answered my questions then, we probably wouldn’t be here today."
In a brief interview shortly before releasing his statement, Grassley signaled that a good-faith effort could be enough to release his procedural holds on career foreign service officers, but some political appointments would not.
"The last time I had a conversation with [Reid], I said we want answers to our letters, and he said, 'Send our letters over and I'll see if I can help,'" Grassley told CQ Roll Call. "I said we don't need to have all the information we want all at once, but ... we haven't had any answers."
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On the floor, Reid said Grassley should consider how much Judiciary Committee time and money was going to investigate Clinton, given other inquiries taking place on the House side of the Capitol complex.
"He should walk in his bathroom, look into the mirror and find out what he's doing about the proper use of taxpayer resources," Reid said. "He should be willing to tell us his about his committee resources that are used to investigate Secretary Clinton. The American people deserve to know how much money is being spent on these investigations."
Reid also called for Grassley to drop the objections to considering the ambassadorial nominations.
"Many of these foreign service officers are always ready to serve at a moment's notice in hot spots throughout the world. Hot spots like Iraq and Afghanistan. They're not partisan. They're diplomats," Reid said on the floor. "That's why it's troubling to see the senior senator from Iowa politicize these promotions."
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