Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday that President Barack Obama isn't choosing ambassadors based on their political beliefs, a statement that goes against various reports showing that about a quarter to a third of Obama's picks are political, and that many have raised money for Obama's campaign.
"When these ambassadors are chosen, they're not chosen based on their political party," Reid insisted on the Senate floor. "They're chosen on merit."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said Monday that President Obama's ambassadorial picks are based on merit, and aren't political. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
Late last month, the American Foreign Service Association reported that about 36 percent of Obama's ambassadorial appointments were political in nature since 2009. Many of these were campaign "bundlers" who helped raise millions of dollars for President Barack Obama.
Back in February, Slate.com put together a map that said 26 "bundlers" were appointed to be ambassadors to plum assignments in countries like Canada, Argentina, New Zealand and various western European countries.
On Monday, Reid criticized Republicans for delaying the confirmation of all of Obama's nominations by using up every hour reserved for debate, even though they rarely debated the nominees and instead wasted days' worth of time. Reid calculated that about 10 days of time have been wasted in the Senate so far this year.
Reid added that these delays are unfair to the many officials who have waited to become ambassadors for their whole lives.
"They have been waiting their whole career to be named an ambassador," Reid said. "It is a huge thing. It's like being… selected to go to the Super Bowl, to be on the pro-bowl team.
"But when it comes time for their… get this thing they worked for their whole career, they're being held up here."