On the hill

Cruz: Blinken’s comments to Foreign Relations Committee on Iran are ‘concerning’

Timing of Blinken’s confirmation vote dependent on Republicans, per Democratic aide

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Then-Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken speaks at the White House in 2014.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) criticized Secretary of State-designate Antony Blinken and the Biden administration’s approach to Iran, and indicated that he’s unlikely to vote for Blinken’s confirmation.

Cruz described as “concerning” Blinken’s answers to his questions about Iran during Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing, in an interview with Jewish Insider on Thursday afternoon.

“I think they reflect a broader naivete from this administration about the Ayatollah Khamenei. This administration seems hell-bent on flooding the ayatollah’s regime with billions of dollars, even knowing full well those funds will be used to support terrorism and to murder Americans and our allies,” the Texas senator said. “His answers at the hearing did not seem to reflect any understanding of the enormous national security risk posed.”

Cruz did not rule out the possibility of voting to confirm c Blinken, saying that he was planning on meeting with him  late Thursday afternoon and would give him “a fair opportunity” to present his case and policy agenda. But the Texas senator was pessimistic about the Biden administration’s overall foreign policy agenda.

“The answers we’ve seen from the Biden team so far, unfortunately, seem to suggest a reflexive approach of wanting to repeal everything done over the last four years,” Cruz continued. “I understand that Democrats despise Donald J. Trump, but weakening America’s national security interests, undermining our allies and most especially the State of Israel, and strengthening our enemies, most especially the nation of Iran, is foolish and profoundly dangerous.”

Cruz’s pessimism about Blinken contrasts starkly with other prominent GOP voices on the Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said during the hearing Tuesday that he planned to vote for Blinken’s confirmation, and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) expressed positivity about Blinken’s responses to him about Iran.

The timing of a Senate confirmation vote on Blinken remains uncertain. On Thursday morning, Blinken submitted answers to “hundreds” of questions presented by Republican members after Tuesday’s hearing, a Senate Democratic aide told JI. 

With no objections from Republican members of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate could vote on Blinken “this week,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Thursday evening. Should Republicans object, the aide added, the Foreign Relations Committee will convene next week for a business meeting to vote Blinken’s nomination out of committee.