Senate confirms top human rights official

The Senate confirmed Tom Malinowski to be the State Department’s assistant secretary for democracy, human rights and labor by voice vote Wednesday evening.

Malinowski, formerly a registered lobbyist at Human Rights Watch, had been favored for the post at the start of Obama’s term but had to wait for the minimum two-year revolving door cooling-off period for lobbyists seeking administration jobs — a rule Obama put in place his first day on the job.

He takes his post as several human rights challenges play out across the globe from Ukraine to Syria to Venezuela. Like many White House nominations, his confirmation hung in the balance for months — he was nominated by Obama almost nine months ago — despite broad bipartisan support.

Last week, according to a letter published by Josh Rogin at The Daily Beast, a long list of high-profile people, including former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, former national security adviser Sandy Berger and Gen. David Petraeus, wrote to Sens. Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell urging them to confirm Malinowski.

“Leaving this position vacant handicaps our diplomacy in crucial areas and sends a deeply unfortunate message about our priorities in the world,” they wrote.

Colby Itkowitz is a national reporter for In The Loop.
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