Hosting the expected parade of Biden nominees through the U.S. Senate, Republicans are being quite congenial, confirming them by margins unheard of when Donald Trump's nominees faced a quite hostile panel of Democrats.
President Joe Biden's newly confirmed secretary of state received the support of more than two dozen Republican senators on Tuesday – despite vowing during his confirmation hearing that under his leadership the Department of State would "take on immediately" a role in defending the LGBTQ agenda. In fact, Antony Blinken (pictured) – one of four Biden nominees confirmed thus far – explained that one of the ways he will support that agenda is by flying "gay pride" flags at U.S. embassies.
Blinken answered in the affirmative when he was asked by a Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee if he intended to appoint an "LGBTI envoy" – and consider raising it to an ambassadorial level:
"This is a matter, I think, of some real urgency. We've seen violence directed against LGBTQI people around the world increase. We've seen, I believe, the highest number of murders of transgender people, particularly women of color, that we've seen ever and so I think the United States playing the role that it should be playing in standing up for and defending the rights of LGBTQI people is something the Department is going to take on and take on immediately."
The Senate vote confirming Blinken was 78-22. All votes against his confirmation were cast by Republicans – among them Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee), Tom Cotton (Arkansas), Ted Cruz (Texas), Josh Hawley (Missouri), and Tommy Tuberville (Alabama). But 28 Republicans joined with the 50 Democrats to put the former Clinton and Obama official in charge of the State Department.
In a press release, Cotton listed several missteps President Biden has taken in the last week regarding American jobs, energy policy, and illegal immigration. Because Blinken "deserves his share of the blame for these diplomatic errors [affecting Canada and Mexico] … I did not support his nomination," states the Arkansas senator.
Cruz said he couldn't support Blinken's nomination because the nominee was committed to reentering the controversial Iran nuclear deal – a step the Texas lawmaker said "will dangerously erode America's national security and put the Biden administration on a collision course with Congress."
Prominent Republican senators supporting the Biden nominee included Lindsey Graham (South Carolina), Marco Rubio (Florida), and former Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Kentucky). Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) was one of the more two dozen Republicans who voted to confirm Blinken.
"I believe Mr. Blinken has the knowledge and qualifications to take on the role of Secretary of State," Wicker said in a press release. "I hope he will build upon the previous administration's historic achievements, including the opening of diplomatic relations between Israel and five Arab countries."
Wicker was joined in the "yea" category by his Mississippi colleague, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, along with three GOP lawmakers who have been described as "Republicans-in-name-only" (RINOs): Maine's Susan Collins, Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, and Utah's Mitt Romney.
Three other prominent Biden nominees have been confirmed by even greater margins since Inauguration Day: Avril Haines, Director of National Intelligence (confirmed 84-10); Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense (93-2); and Janet Yellen, Secretary of the Treasury (84-15).