US Secretary of State Blinken warns of vacant national security jobs if attack occurs

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WASHINGTON (BLOOMBERG) – United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken will urge the Senate to confirm President Joe Biden’s nominees for top national security posts, warning that the US could be caught short-staffed in the event of an attack.

It is “essential that we accelerate the process for national security appointments since a catastrophic attack could occur with little or no notice”, Mr Blinken plans to tell the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a hearing on Tuesday (Sept 14), according to a copy of his remarks obtained by Bloomberg News.

He will cite Senate delays on some 80 nominees as a “significant disruption in our national security policy-making”, according to the remarks.

The hearing is the second in two days in which Mr Blinken will respond to questions about Mr Biden’s Afghanistan policy.

The dispute over nominees comes down almost entirely to one senator, Mr Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican.

Mr Cruz has blocked the Senate’s ability to confirm most nominees through procedural moves to protest a raft of administration policies, including the decision not to sanction key officials involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia to Germany.

On Monday, Mr Cruz lifted his holds on three nominees, including Mr Donald Lu, who will take the job of assistant secretary of State for South and Central Asia, which includes Afghanistan.

Mr Blinken’s prepared remarks are otherwise similar to the ones he gave before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday.

In that session, which lasted about five hours, Republican lawmakers criticised the Biden administration for its handling of the troop withdrawal and evacuation of some 124,000 people as the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan earlier this summer.