President Biden plans to nominate hotel executive and key Democratic donor George Tsunis as his envoy to Greece, according to people familiar with the matter.
why it matters: Senate Foreign Relations President Robert Menendez (DN.J.) had prompted Biden to choose Tsunis, and Tsunis now has a second chance to prove that he is an ambassador after his unsuccessful nomination under President Obama. qualified to serve.
- Tsunis was Obama’s choice for Norway in 2012, but he stumbled in his confirmation hearing. Republican Sen. John McCain – and the entire nation of Norway – sprung up, and Tsunis lost the nomination.
- The nomination, expected this afternoon, will come before the Greek foreign minister arrives in Washington on October 14 to sign a renewed mutual defense cooperation agreement that will strengthen the US Navy presence in Souda Bay off the coast of Crete.
Between the lines: Tsunis was born in Queens, but Greek was his first language and he didn’t learn English until he went to kindergarten.
- Tsunis is deeply involved in a variety of Greek causes in America and has served as Vice President of the Hellenic American Leadership Council.
- If confirmed by the Senate, Tsunis ambassador Geoffrey R. Pyat, a career Foreign Service officer who also served as ambassador to Ukraine.
big picture: Biden, who promised to rebuild the State Department and reinvent diplomacy, is naming ambassadors at a much slower pace than his predecessors.
- Republicans in the Senate are also slowing down the confirmation process with Sense. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have vowed to place procedural hurdles on all nominees in an effort to extract policy and personnel concessions from Biden.
go in: In announcing his ambassador choice, Biden is pairing political ambassadors with professional diplomats and will likely make non-career nominations for about 30% of the total 190 ambassadors, leaving 70% for foreign service officers.
- That 70:30 ratio would correspond to a traditional breakdown, According to American Foreign Service Association.
- President Trump nominates political ambassadors for about 44% of his appointments.
- For non-career ambassadors, Biden is picking more politicians than pure political donors like LA Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) for India and former Sen. Jeff Fleck (R-Ariz) for Turkey.