The confirmation vote for Roberta Jacobson as the new United States ambassador in Mexico is scheduled for this week as part of an agreement announced today in the U.S. Senate by Arizona legislator Jeff Flake.
“I bring good news … I understand there is an agreement being worked out that will ultimately lead to a successful confirmation this week,” Flake said in a speech from the floor of the Senate.
Flake, the biggest driver of Jacobson’s confirmation, had asked before for a vote through what is known as “unanimous consent” legislative procedure, but was blocked by Sen. Marco Rubio, who is of Cuban descent.
Under the rules of the U.S. Senate, opposition from just one of 100 sentaors is enough to block a confirmation vote, which in the case of Jacobson has caused delay since he was nominated and approved by the Foreign Relations Committee last year.
Legislative sources revealed that among the points of negotiation of the agreement include possible changes in the policy of sanctions on the government of Venezuela, one of the points of disagreement Sen. Rubio has with the Obama administration.
Rubio said he felt cheated by Jacobson when she said that the Venezuelan opposition did not support sanctions against members of President Nicolás Maduro, but has insisted that he hopes to reach an agreement with the Obama administration.
We shouldn’t go another day, let alone another 10 months, w/o an amb. to Mexico. Returning to the senate floor now to urge a vote
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) April 27, 2016
“Therefore I will not be asking for unanimous consent, but I will try to come back here as often as necessary to maintain pressure and monitor this process to ensure we have a successful resolution,” Flake insisted in his speech in the Senate.
“Mexico is one of our most important relationships. It is clear that the more time passes without a U.S. ambassador to Mexico, the more our alliance will suffer,” he said.
“There is no reason to go without an ambassador in Mexico when we have someone as qualified as Roberta Jacobson,” Flake concluded.
Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, was nominated by President Obama in June 2015 and approved by the Foreign Relations Committee, but confirmation has remained in limbo due to opposition from Rubio.
The ambassador nominee has more than a quarter-century of experience in Western Hemisphere affairs in U.S. diplomacy.
Jacobson has participated in negotiations, like for the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, which brought opposition from Rubio; and in the configuration of the Merida Initiative between the United States, Mexico and other Latin American countries to combat drug trafficking.
In her capacity as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Jacobson led the U.S. delegation in the negotiations with Cuba to restore diplomatic relations and reopen embassies in their respective capitals.