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Jeff Flake (center) and Tom Udall (far right) are seen with some of their former Senate colleagues during a meeting with then-Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (second from left) in 2015. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

It turns out the best way for any of President Biden's would-be ambassadors to get confirmed by the Senate is to have served in the Senate — or been married to a senator.

Driving the news: Each of the four ambassadorial nominees confirmed Tuesday has a connection to the Senate. Their approval brings the president’s number of confirmed ambassadors to five, and the fifth has his own Senate link.

  • Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who's been blocking nominees, cited "senatorial courtesy" in dropping his opposition for the confirmations of Jeff Flake, Tom Udall, Cindy McCain and Vicki Kennedy, the Washington Post's Seung Min Kim tweeted.
  • Both Flake and Udall are former senators.

Between the lines: Flake, an Arizona Republican, was approved as ambassador to Turkey, while Udall, a Democrat from New Mexico, will serve as envoy to New Zealand and Samoa.

  • McCain, widow of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), was confirmed as ambassador to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome.
  • Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), was confirmed to be ambassador to Austria.

The quartet joins Ken Salazar.

  • The former senator from Colorado was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Mexico in August.

Why it matters: The president has been delayed in getting his nominees confirmed as Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) have committed to slowing down the process.

  • In a twist, Cruz will not hold up Nick Burns' confirmation as ambassador to China, a source familiar with the decision told Axios.
  • While Burns is not a former senator, he's a widely respected former ambassador, longtime diplomat and Harvard professor.
  • In assenting to his confirmation, Cruz is underscoring the importance of getting an ambassador in Beijing amid economic, military and COVID-19 disputes with China.

Be smart: The confirmations on Tuesday came just before Biden was slated to fly to Italy for a meeting with G20 leaders in Rome.

What we’re watching: The timing of Rahm Emanuel's confirmation as ambassador to Japan also presents an interesting question:

  • Does congressional courtesy extend to a House guy?

Go deeper

Nov 17, 2021 - World

Israel's new ambassador starts work in D.C.

Mike Herzog, Israel’s new ambassador to the U.S., arrived in Washington over the weekend and started work on Monday.

Why it matters: As the most experienced and knowledgeable official in the Israeli government on the U.S.-Israel relationship, Herzog is expected to be the senior figure in Israeli diplomacy with the U.S.

Storms pummel flood-hit Pacific Northwest as border river overflows

An image of the water-logged Sumas Prairie area taken last Friday. Photo: B.C. Ministry of Transportation/Twitter.

The latest ferocious storm system to hit the Pacific Northwest triggered fresh evacuation orders and at least one mudslide in flood-ravaged British Columbia, Canada, late Sunday.

Threat level: Flood sirens sounded in Washington state as the Nooksack River overflowed. Henry Braun, mayor of Abbotsford, B.C., told reporters the water flow was headed toward the Canadian border city later Sunday. "There's nothing to stop it," he said.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

First North American Omicron cases identified in Canada

COVID-19 testing personnel at Toronto Pearson International Airport in September. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The first two cases of the new Omicron variant have been detected in North America, the Canadian government announced Sunday evening.

Driving the news: The World Health Organization has named Omicron a "variant of concern," but cautioned earlier on Sunday that it is not yet clear whether it's more transmissible than other strains of COVID-19.