WASHINGTON, July 9 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lashed out at his former colleagues in the Senate on Tuesday, penning a critique of the painfully slow Senate diplomatic confirmation process and how it has hampered U.S. efforts to advance political, economic and security interests abroad.
"The United States continues to operate without a complete diplomatic toolbox to exert our leadership and advance our security and economic interests across the globe, because a broken Senate confirmation process has left us without permanent ambassadors in 40 countries."
Delays by the Senate "compromises U.S. national security" and has impacted counter-terrorism operations abroad.
With no U.S. ambassadors in Cameroon and Niger for more than eight months, the U.S. has not been able to leverage all available resources to counter Boko Haram in neighboring Nigeria.
"That means we lost eight months when we would have had full-strength, highest-level capacity to build greater regional cooperation and trust to combat the rising threat from this brutal extremist group. Eight months when U.S. advice and training could have helped equip these critical countries to better help themselves. Eight months when we could have provided better assistance to respond to a moral outrage."
"The nominees for these jobs," Kerry lamented, "are victims of a confirmation backlog that grows with each passing day."
Kerry proposed a simple solution: treat diplomatic confirmations as expediently as military confirmations. "The administration's military nominees are confirmed quickly and en bloc, which is the proper way to handle them."
There are currently 53 State Department nominees awaiting Senate confirmation, 37 of whom have already been approved by the Foreign Relations Committee. Thirty-five of the nominees are career diplomats and, Kerry added, "none of them are controversial."