President Joe Biden announced that Wednesday that he would nominate Caroline Kennedy and Michelle Kwan to ambassadorships.
Kennedy, the only surviving child of President John F. Kennedy, is up for the top diplomatic post in Australia, while Kwan will go to Belize. Both women supported Biden during the Democratic primaries, with Kennedy endorsing him in February 2020 and Kwan serving as a surrogate director for the Biden campaign. Kennedy was U.S. ambassador to Japan during President Barack Obama’s second term, and Kwan held multiple roles in the State Department during the Bush and Obama administrations.
Kennedy and Kwan were announced as part of a slate of eight appointees. (RELATED: President Biden Reveals Nominees For Ambassador To Israel, Mexico)
Biden nominates Michelle Kwan (!!) as Ambassador to Belize & Caroline Kennedy as Ambassador to Australia pic.twitter.com/EGYNwJXkP9
— Alayna Treene (@alaynatreene) December 15, 2021
“I look forward to collaborating with the Government of Australia to strengthen our alliance, improve global health and increase vaccine access during this terrible pandemic and to address the urgent climate crisis. I am excited to get to know the Australian people, learn about their fascinating country and share with them what I love most about America,” Kennedy said in a statement.
“Belize is full of incredible history and culture, and has been a tremendous partner to the United States,” Kwan added. “I look forward to working with the Belizean government on economic issues, to put an end to this pandemic, and to address the root causes of migration.”
Many Democrats and some Republicans have expressed concern with the slow pace at which Biden has filled ambassadorships. More than half of the U.S.’s ambassadorships remain vacant, according to the American Foreign Service Association, and Biden has only nominated individuals to 49 of the 95 vacancies.
Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri have placed holds on several of Biden’s nominees. Cruz has demanded sanctions against Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline in exchange for lifting his holds on a number of appointees, while Hawley has blocked nominees due to his objections to the U.S.’s chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal.
Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy agreed that Rubio would lift his block of Nicholas Burns, Biden’s nominee to China, in exchange for a vote on Rubio’s Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.