Hispanic caucus wants Rubio to deliver on Aponte confirmation
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is pressing Sen. Marco Rubio to make good on a pledge to round up Republican votes to confirm the nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte to U.S. ambassador to El Salvador. Senate Democrats could bring a vote as early as Wednesday.
Rubio played a role in a messy fight with the White House that resulted in Aponte being blocked in December. Aponte, who is of Puerto Rican descent, drew questions over a former boyfriend who had been accused of being a Cuban spy and for praising a U.N. resolution calling on El Salvador to curb discrimination against gays.
The blockade angered some Hispanics and Rubio went as far as to meet with Puerto Ricans in the Orlando area. All along, the Florida lawmaker said he was seeking a tougher stand by the administration on Nicaragua and after securing that, insisted he would work to deliver the necessary Republican votes. But it never happened, causing both sides to point fingers as the year ended.
Now Democrats want to bring Aponte up again, saying it gets harder to get things done as the election nears.
"Though you voted against cloture, a Dec. 23, 2011, article in Roll Call noted that you are no longer opposed to Ms. Aponte's nomination and indicated your commitment to find the votes needed for cloture," reads a letter to Rubio by Rep. Charles Gonzalez, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, first vice chair. "We applaud your decision to support Ms. Aponte and urge you to help secure the Republican votes necessary to confirm this highly qualified Latina."
Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said he expected Rubio would honor his deal and vote for cloture. Will he whip the votes? Conant said Rubio already did that had Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brought it up in December. But now one of the votes is gone due to the absence of Sen. Mark Kirk, the Illinois Republican who suffered a stroke and is in recovery.
"I should add that his objection to her and the other Western Hemisphere nominees was never personal," Conant said, "but rather (over) concerns with the administration's approach to democracy in the region."