Today's business meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee includes Tara Sonenshine, nominee for Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy (and Public Affairs). While perfunctory and the time spent on Tara and her cohort will be measured in single-digit minutes (all the real work is done before the business meeting), it is a major move toward confirmation. Indeed, by the time you read this, Tara's nomination was already referred to the floor. Next up: confirmation by the Senate.
How long will the Senate take confirm Tara? No one knows. The Senate has all but come to a halt on nominations, allowing only a few through. One insider labeled the GOP hold on nominations as the "How-Dare-the-President-Make-SoCalled-Recess-Appointments Hold."
The State Department, in a show of its confidence in the Senate last week, named Amb. Kathleenn Stephens as Acting Under Secretary. Amb. Stephens, by the way, is a good choice, a Foreign Service Officer with the rank of Career Minister, whose service as U/S will undoubtedly be impacted by the unknown of how long she will serve, an unfortunate and common reality of this particular job. Place your bets: Will she serve until the election, or beyond, or until the end of the month?
The agenda of today's business that is chaired by Chairman Kerry:
7. Ms. Tara D. Sonenshine, of Maryland, to be Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy
8. Mr. Earl W. Gast, of California, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development
9. Ms. Anne Claire Richard, of New York, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration
10. Mr. Robert E. Whitehead, of Florida, to be Ambassador to the Togolese Republic
11. The Honorable Nancy J. Powell, of Iowa, to be Ambassador to the Republic of India
12. The Honorable Larry L. Palmer, of Georgia, to be Ambassador to Barbados, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
13. The Honorable Phyllis M. Powers, of Virginia, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Nicaragua
14. Mr. Jonathan D. Farrar, of California, to be Ambassador to the Republic of Panama