Mike Hammer (U.S. State Department) Michael Hammer (U.S. State Department)

Just in time for Vice President Biden’s visit to the country next week, the Senate confirmed Michael Hammer as U.S. ambassador to Chile on Thursday. The vote, which ensures a top American diplomat will be on hand to escort Biden and wife, Dr. Jill Biden, unshackles one of the nearly 50 ambassadorial nominees held up in Senate gridlock.

The Senate gave unanimous approval to Hammer, a career foreign service officer and most recently Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, along with five other agency nominees.

Among them was Kathryn D. Sullivan, the first American woman to walk in space, to be Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.

The only roll call vote came on Rose Gottemoeller’s nomination to be Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Republicans had claimed that she – and the White House – had not shared information that Russia possibly violated a nuclear treaty. She was confirmed 58-42.

The Senate also confirmed Gil Kerlikowske, former White House drug czar, to be Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection; Suzanne Spaulding to be Under Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; John Roth to be Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security; Rhonda K. Schmidtlein to be a member of the United States International Trade Commission.

Seven down…