Led by Nevada Senator Harry Reid, this afternoon Senate Democrats were finally able to break a Republican-led filibuster against the Obama administration's nominee for U.S. Ambassador to the United States, Mari Carmen Aponte, and gain her confirmation.
Nine Republican Senators, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, joined 53 Democrats in invoking cloture securing the 60 votes needed to break the filibuster. Minutes the Senate confirmed the new Ambassador by voice vote before adjourning for the week.
A rising political star and possible Republican vice presidential nominee, Rubio had drawn withering criticism for voting against her last year not on her merits but because he wanted to use the vote to pressure the Obama administration to adopt his conservative interests in the Caribbean and Central America.
It didn't help that Ms. Aponte had actually served as interim ambassador for fifteen months before she was forced to step down when a confirmation failed to materialize last year. She now will return to El Salvador after a six month absence.
Rubio, who is a Cuban-American, was particularly assailed by the Puerto Rican press who saw his vote as a possible nail in the coffin on the diplomatic career of a well-respected Puerto Rican figure. In December he tried to make amends by saying he was ready to vote for Ms. Aponte and to bring some of his Republican colleagues to vote for her as well.
Yesterday, on the eve of the vote, Rubio was singing a different song indicating he had no idea how his Republican colleagues would vote and preemptively washing his hands of any responsibility should the confirmation fail to materialize.
In a statement released after the vote Rubio continued to whine accusing Democrats of "playing divisive ethnic politics" and trying to "divide two groups of Hispanics." LOL.
Particularly egregious, at least to me, was South Carolina Republican Senator Jim DeMint's ultra-homophobic stand against the Aponte nomination, taking specific issue with an OpEd she wrote for an El Salvador newspaper saluting the Central American nation's effort to protect the rights of LGBT Salvadoreans.
Let's take one more look at statements he made on the floor of the Senate's Foreign relations Committee last year:
- El Salvador ambassador confirmed at last (The Caucus blog at New York Times)
- Senate confirms Obama's choice for ambassador to El Salvador (AP)
- Senate confirms pro-gay U.S. ambassador to El Salvador (The Washington Blade)