Senate confirms Jack Lew as US ambassador to Israel following vocal GOP opposition over Iran deal

Al Draco/The New York Times/Redux

Jack Lew, President Biden’s nominee to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, during his confirmation hearing on Wednesday, October 1.

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew as the new US ambassador to Israel, despite strong opposition from Senate Republicans to his involvement in the Iran nuclear deal during the Obama administration.

He was confirmed by a 53-43 vote.

Lew is a veteran of several Democratic administrations, having served as chief of staff under then-President Barack Obama and director of the Office of Management and Budget under Obama and then-President Bill Clinton.

Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Rand Paul of Kentucky were the only two Republicans to vote to confirm Lew.

Graham acknowledged in a statement explaining his vote that “there are legitimate concerns about Mr. Lew” and that his decision was “not taken lightly by me.”

“However, I know from my recent trip to Israel that the United States needs to appoint an ambassador immediately,” Graham said. “Israel’s back is against the wall and time is of the essence. America needs an ambassador in Israel now more than ever.

“Leaders I spoke to in the Israeli government were aware and comfortable with Mr. Lew serving in this capacity,” he added.

Paul said in a statement, “After personally meeting with Jack Lew, I found him to be a thoughtful person who will try to do his best to represent the United States in Israel,” adding that the crisis in Israel was a cause for concern. messenger.

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Ahead of the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer stressed the importance of filling the void in Israel amid the ongoing conflict. “With everything going on in Israel right now, confirming Jack Lew at this time will be one of the most important and consequential nomination votes the Senate has taken in a long time,” he said.

Schumer added, “Leiv has a strong, long, proven record as a public servant and a fierce ally of Israel, and this appointment will help send a powerful message of support for Israel to be filled soon.”

However, many Republicans made their opposition to Lew’s nomination clear in the weeks leading up to his confirmation. Senator Tom Cotton has attacked Lew as an “Iran sympathizer who has no business being our ambassador” and Senator Eric Schmidt wrote in a post on X, “Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was a key figure in the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. Iran is a major supporter of Hamas. Jack is the US ambassador to Israel. Lou has no business.

This story has been updated with additional updates.

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