It would have been nice to have a U.S. ambassador to Guatemala during the height of the child migrant crisis, but better late than never. The Senate finally confirmed Todd D. Robinson, a career diplomat, as the U.S. ambassador to Guatemala Tuesday, filling a position that has been vacant for months. Robinson was just one of many qualified candidates nominated to key ambassadorships that have been left vacant for far too long.
The delay, of course, has been the Senate's failure to confirm nominees. After Senate Democrats deployed the nuclear option in November — meaning it now takes 51 votes, not 60, to vote on presidential nominees — Republicans began blocking nominations through other means.
In July the State Department issued a release pointing out that there were 58 ambassador candidates awaiting confirmation. Thirty-five of them had been approved by the Senate Foreign Relations committee and could have been approved by a simple vote.
"Noncontroversial career Foreign Service officers are languishing on the sidelines instead of being on the ground fighting to protect and promote U.S. interests," the release read. By September 1, that number was down to 55 pending ambassadors, according to The Boston Globe. The average wait time for candidates approved by the committee was seven months.