Schumer prepares for possible showdown with Cruz over nominee holdup

Democrats are preparing for the possibility of keeping the Senate in town into Christmas week
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Schumer
Senate Majority Leader Schumer on Tuesday
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Senate Democrats say they are willing to keep the legislative body in Washington, D.C. heading into the holidays if they are unable to come to a deal that would allow them to vote on some of President Joe Biden's ambassador nominees.

Texas GOP Sen, Ted Cuz has been holding up the nominee votes for months, attempting to trade them for a vote on sanctions pertaining to the construction of the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

"Democrats are working to clear as much of the backlog as possible by consent," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. "If we cannot make much progress, we may need to stay and hold votes on nominees this weekend and next week until we do."

The House departed D.C. on Wednesday and will not return until January.

At present, more than 50 ambassador nominees are available for a vote, but to avoid hours upon hours of floor time spent on each nominee Cruz would need to drop his objection. 

The Democrat-led Senate is moving toward shelving Biden's Build Back Better bill until the new year – party leaders had hoped for passage by Christmas – and it is unclear that there is a realistic path forward for the caucus's voting rights agenda.

Adding ambassador nominations to his growing list of worries is not something Schumer is looking to do.

But on Wednesday, the New York Democrat made clear he is looking for a lift on holds for "all State, Treasury and USAID nominees" from Cruz, and that anything less would be insufficient for deal creation. 

Cruz, on the other hand, is playing hardball and says unless Schumer eases his posturing, Democrats will find themselves sending all of the president's nominees back to the White House for re-nomination in 2022. 

"I have a reasonable and good faith offer on the table to lift a number of holds and have demonstrated that I am more than willing to negotiate on good faith on this," Cruz told The Hill newspaper. "Schumer has the ability to confirm a substantial chunk of nominees. He could do so today, if he simply accepted the deal."