The Senate rejected on a 49-37 vote late Monday the cloture on the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte, of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador to the Republic of El Salvador. Ambassador Aponte is the first Puerto Rican appointed as U.S. ambassador.
Photo from US Embassy San Salvador/FB
Nevada Sen. Harry Reid issued the following statement after Republicans blocked her confirmation:
“Senate Republicans once again put politics above policy by blocking the confirmation of a dedicated public servant. In the fifteen months Mari Carmen Aponte has served as our ambassador to El Salvador, she finalized an important international, anti-crime agreement and forged a strong partnership between our nations. The Puerto Rican community and all Americans are right to be proud of Ms. Aponte’s accomplishments as a diplomat representing our nation, as I am.
“I am disappointed Republicans continued a long-running trend of obstructing qualified nominees just to score political points. Unfortunately, defeating President Obama is more important to Senate Republicans than confirming qualified nominees to represent our country in Latin America.”
Ambassador Aponte's chief opponent in the Senate is no other than Jim Demint, the junior senator from South Carolina and chief defender of creatures big and small except gay people. According to CNN, Senator DeMint, writing last month in Human Events, assailed Ambassador Aponte for the op-ed and revived the old speculation about her personal life.
"Our relationship with the Salvadoran people has been one of trust and friendship for decades," DeMint said. "We should not risk that by appointing an ambassador who shows such a blatant disregard for their culture and refuses to clear unsettled doubts about her previous relationships. It's time to bring Ms. Aponte home."NYT's Gail Collins writes a warning about The Ghosts of Boyfriends Past which should be required reading for all women with ambassadorial aspirations.
New unnerving development in Congress: Some senators are claiming that a woman nominated to be ambassador to El Salvador can’t have the job because they don’t like a boyfriend she lived with almost 20 years ago.
Whenever these things happen, the Democrats race off to try to placate the aggrieved Republican. They gave DeMint access to Aponte’s F.B.I. file, even though instances of DeMint’s being placated by anything are about as frequent as confirmed sightings of space aliens.
DeMint then complained that the file was out of date. But, by then, he seemed to be losing interest in the boyfriend issue and had moved on to fuming that while she was in El Salvador, Aponte had written an op-ed essay in a Salvadoran newspaper “lecturing their people on the need to accept and support the gay lifestyle.”
So basically, Ambassador Aponte's nomination is derailed by the ghost of an old boyfriend, and for writing an op-ed on a policy championed by the administration she serves. But even if she did not write that op-ed, who's to say that her nomination would not be "deminted" ... after all there are other blahs to complain about .... her shoes or something...
I suppose there is still hope while Congress is in session. But time is against her. With only a few days to go before Congress breaks for the holidays, it seems like this nomination may now be seriously dead.
It looks like this nomination is not quite dead yet but not sure how long this will stay in life support. Ambassador Aponte's nomination is currently listed for reconsideration in the senate's executive calendar dated December 17. A few days ago, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) announced its disappointment in the Senate's recent failure to confirm her as U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador. According to its press release, "the USHCC, America's premier Hispanic business organization and the primary advocate for the interests of nearly three million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States that combined generate in excess of $420 billion annually, has been impressed with Aponte's achievements regarding economic development in El Salvador."
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is not the only one disappointed. Apparently, the Puerto Ricans in Florida are similarly disappointed. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) must have heard their disappointment. WaPo's Al Kamen writes that "if it turns out that Rubio gets sufficient votes to break the filibuster, a Senate vote would be rescheduled on Aponte’s nomination."