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Photo credit: Tasos Katopodis-Pool/Getty Images.

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers led by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is urging the State Department to help American families waiting to be united with their adoptive children in China.

The big picture: The coronavirus pandemic has halted intercountry adoptions, leaving hundreds of families and children in limbo.

What's happening: Klobuchar, Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and 48 other senators sent a letter today to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asking him to prioritize engagement with the Chinese government to help unite American families and children in China.

What they're saying: "Several hundred American families have been approved and matched with children in China, but the pandemic has indefinitely halted many of these adoptions. In the interim, many children have been left without the love and protection of a family," the senators wrote.

  • "We encourage the United States and China to hold diplomatic discussions at the highest levels to establish guidelines that allow American families to safely travel to China and unite with their adopted children."

Between the lines: Amid growing U.S.-China tensions, some U.S. officials are striving to find areas in which engagement with China is still possible. Climate change cooperation is one such area, and using diplomatic channels to ease adoptions could be another.

Go deeper

Blinken tells diplomats State Department lacks answers for "Havana syndrome"

Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 5. Photo: Saul Loeb/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a letter obtained by NBC News that the Department of State lacks answers for the cause of and treatments for unexplained health incidents that have affected U.S. diplomats working in multiple countries.

Why it matters: As many as 200 Americans who worked in overseas posts have said they experienced symptoms consistent with "Havana Syndrome," which has been used to describe mysterious brain injuries suffered by embassy staff.

Rahm Emanuel questioned on murder of Laquan McDonald in confirmation hearing

Rahm Emanuel during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on Oct. 20. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke about the murder of Laquan McDonald during his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday to become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, saying that "there's not a day or a week that has gone by in the last seven years I haven't thought about this."

Catch up quick: McDonald was a Black teenager who was fatally shot 16 times by Chicago police during Emanuel's tenure as the city's mayor. The 2014 shooting triggered massive protests, both because of its nature and the fact that the officers' body-cam footage was concealed for years.

3 hours ago - World

Biden's ambassador nominee: "China is not an Olympian power"

Nick Burns testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee to serve as ambassador to China delivered a stark assessment of the challenges the U.S. faces in confronting Beijing, but stressed that the rising superpower is "not all-powerful" and the West retains "substantial" advantages.

The big picture: Nicholas Burns, a retired career diplomat and former U.S. ambassador to NATO, used his confirmation hearing Wednesday to echo the growing bipartisan consensus that China poses "the greatest threat to the security of our country and the democratic world" in the 21st century.

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