US Ambassador designate to Ireland Kevin O’Malley is very likely to have his final confirmation blocked for a period as Republicans in the Senate have decide to refuse to co-operate with ratifying close to 60 ambassadorial appointments.
The hold up could run into months as the senate adjourns and will not meet again for five weeks.
The St. Louis lawyer had been approved at his confirmation hearing and was expected in situ in Dublin by September after a full senate voice vote, usually a formality.
The Irish job has been vacant since Ambassador Dan Rooney departed in December 2012 and several efforts to replace him fell short say insiders. It is possible now there could be a two-year hiatus before the position is filled.
There has been consternation in Irish American circles over the non-appointment of an ambassador, which only calmed down when O’Malley was named.
The senate may not take up consideration of new ambassadors now until October, so it could be closer to the end of the year before the ambassador actually takes over.
On Friday before the senate recessed for summer break, Democratic lawmakers tried to get 25 ambassadors confirmed by voice vote, which is the normal procedure.
However, Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming objected to the voice vote and none of the ambassadors were confirmed, except for a new US Ambassador to Russia John Teff.
Enzi stated he was “reserving the right to object we used to pass ambassadors and all kinds of people en bloc like that but we have this nuclear option now that the majority chose so it takes a little longer to do the whole process and on that basis I object.”