Senate holding hearing on confirming Biden’s pick for Ambassador to Israel

October 18, 2023

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was set to hold a hearing on Wednesday with the aim of quickly confirming Biden’s nominee for Ambassador to Israel, Jacob Lew.

Lew was Secretary of the Treasury during the Obama Administration. Biden tapped him last month after Ambassador Tom Nides left the post in Israel in July.

Lew’s vast government experience also includes stints as both White House Chief of Staff and director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under President Obama.

The Senate committee’s hearing Wednesday was coming as the White House informed Congress that it is considering a request of some $90-$100 billion in funding for Israel’s war against Hamas and Ukraine’s war against Russia, as well as aid for Taiwan in the face of threats from China. 

Last week, following Hamas’ massive surprise attack on Israel, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for an emergency appropriations package tying additional funding for Israel with military aid to Ukraine. At his weekly news conference on Tuesday, though, McConnell did not say whether he supported Lew’s confirmation. 

Meanwhile, Congress is currently hamstrung in the aftermath of the ousting of Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) from the House Speaker’s seat two weeks ago. The vacancy has essentially paralyzed the lower chamber until a successor is chosen.

A vote for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) on Tuesday failed 232-200 as twenty Republicans and all 212 Democrats voted for other lawmakers for the Speakership.

Calling Lew “an outstanding, qualified person,” Senate Foreign Relations Chair Ben Cardin (D-MD) on Tuesday stressed the urgency of having a confirmed ambassador in Israel as it navigates its war against Hamas along with tensions with Hezbollah on its northern border.

PHOTO: Jacob Lew in 2013

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