Who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioning Burns and Emanuel?

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which examines some prominent diplomatic appointments on Wednesday, has often been a decent deba...


The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which examines some prominent diplomatic appointments on Wednesday, has often been a decent debate society, but Rahm Emanuel and R. Nicholas Burns, President Biden’s choices for ambassadorial posts to Japan and China could face a crazier race.

The collision of events – escalating tensions with China and disruptions in the global supply chain – will likely dominate the questioning of Mr. Burns, who has served as a diplomat under the presidents of both sides.

Mr. Emanuel, the combative former mayor of Chicago, will face the panel on the seventh anniversary of the murder of black teenager, Laquan McDonald, by white city policeman.

The committee is chaired by Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey who ripped apart Mr. Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. While Mr Menendez is likely to support both candidates, he is also less inclined to play the human shield role adopted by other committee chairs to defend the president’s candidates.

Credit…Pool photo by Susan Walsh

The Republican of rank on the committee, Senator Jim Risch from Idaho, got along well with Mr. Menendez and worked on legislation strengthen the US response to a series of actions by Beijing, focused on strengthening regional military coordination and a more aggressive approach to intellectual property theft.

Credit…Pool photo by Matt McClain

Mr Risch did not say how he would vote on either candidate, but he said his meetings with the two had been cordial – and with other Republicans on the committee, including Senator Bill Hagerty, Republican of Tennessee, signaled possible support for Mr. Emanuel.

Credit…J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

Mr Burns is likely to face more intense political questions, but he is almost certain to garner more support from the Republican side, having known some committee members for decades, including Senator Rob Portman from Ohio, who served with him under President George W. Bush.

Credit…Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, toasted Mr Burns for his previous statements about the origin of the pandemic, which downplayed the likelihood that the virus had originated from a Wuhan laboratory. This issue is highly politicized and the World Health Organization is preparing to a second team to investigate the origins of the virus, after his first team rejected the possibility.

Mr Burns, echoing recent assessments by administration officials Biden, said he believed the origins of the virus were still unknown, and said he supported efforts to intensify the investigation at the interior of China.

More fireworks will likely come from two Republican presidential candidates in 2016 – Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, who called Mr. Biden’s team dangerously weak on foreign affairs, and Senator Ted Cruz from Texas, which is likely to come hard after the two nominees. Mr. Emanuel, who is known for his aggressive and at times abrasive style, was trained to engage in the least confrontational way possible, according to a person involved in its preparations

Credit…Pool photo by Shawn Thew

Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, is also considered a wild card. He used the recent hearings as a platform to criticize the Biden administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the toughest times for Mr. Emanuel might not come from Republicans.

Credit…Pool photo by Tom Williams

Several of the Democrats on the panel, in particular Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, one of his party’s most vocal members on the issue of police violence, are likely to urge him for a more detailed explanation of the actions following Mr. McDonald’s murder on October 20, 2014.

Jonathan Eric Kaplan, the candidate for ambassador to Singapore, is also due to appear before the Senate panel on Wednesday.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Who is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioning Burns and Emanuel?
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