Dems accuse GOP of holding up nominee to head aid agency

AP News
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Posted: Sep 16, 2015 11:56 AM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Democrats accused Republicans Wednesday of blocking President Barack Obama's nominee to lead the U.S. international aid agency amid the international migration crisis.

Gayle Smith's nomination to run the U.S. Agency for International Development was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in July, but the full Senate has yet to act.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said Republican obstruction is to blame. He said the U.S. needs leadership at the aid agency in light of the humanitarian crisis in Europe, where hundreds of thousands of migrants from Syria and elsewhere are flooding borders.

"It's just the latest example of Republicans' obstruction for obstruction's sake," Reid, D-Nev., said Wednesday on the Senate Floor. "Republicans are impeding our ability to assist those around the world who need help."

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz announced plans in July to hold up State Department nominations because of his objections to the Iran nuclear agreement. Democrats blamed Cruz's move for holding up Smith's nomination, among others.

Donald Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said other nominations had been waiting longer than Smith's, although he could offer no guidance on timing of a floor vote.

Smith, the senior director for development and democracy at the White House's National Security Council, has had a diverse career working on humanitarian efforts in and out of government. She would replace former USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah, who announced his resignation last year amid criticism over the agency's secretive programs in Cuba.