December 10, 2009
Arturo Valenzuela is finally settling in as assistant secretary for the western hemisphere on the 6th floor of the State Department. But, the distinguished diplomat who most recently served in that job—Tom Shannon—is still waiting for his next post due to another hold on his nomination to be ambassador to Brazil.
Back in early November, when Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) lifted his holds on Arturo Valenzuela as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere and Tom Shannon as ambassador to Brazil, newcomer Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) slapped a hold on Shannon’s nomination the very next day.
Senator DeMint’s hold was ostensibly due to concerns of how the U.S. handled Honduras, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Conspicuously absent was Cuba. Right then and there, that should have been a red flag of more complaints to come against Shannon, as Cuba is the ostensible focus for these new questions.
As soon as Sen. LeMieux lifts his hold, I’m told, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) will take his place, and after Sen. Vitter lifts his hold, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) will step up with his own hold. Like whack-a-mole. As soon as one goes down, another will pop up.