According to Reuters, US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said on Thursday (December 4) he is blocking President Barack Obama's nomination of Antony Blinken as the US' deputy Secretary of State, citing sharp disagreement with the nominee's past statements re: Iraq.
"He's totally unqualified," the Republican senator told Reuters, when asked why he was holding up Blinken's nomination to be deputy US Secretary of State.
"He's the guy who said we're leaving behind the richest, safest Iraq in history. Look it up," McCain said, referring to Blinken's reassuring comments two years ago about the decision to withdraw all US troops from Iraq.
McCain, a frequent critic of Obama's foreign policy, has repeatedly voiced strong opposition to the decision to end the campaign in Iraq, where US forces are currently battling the militant fighters of the Islamic State (IS).
COMMENT: The White House responded by citing Blinken's decades of foreign policy experience, including stints at the State Department and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "This is somebody who...knows the world, who's got ample experience representing the United States of America and has done so with distinction," spokesman Josh Earnest said.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was to have voted on Blinken's nomination on Thursday, amid heated debate in Congress over the campaign against the Sunni Muslim group in Iraq and Syria.
McCain's action puts off the vote off until next week, at the soonest. If the committee approves Blinken, as is expected if the vote is able to proceed, the full Senate must still vote to confirm him before he can take office as Secretary of State John Kerry's deputy.