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When Is Chris Hill’s Confirmation Hearing?

It’s been about two weeks since President Obama officially announced that Chris Hill was his choice to become the next ambassador to Iraq. He’ll have a big job, as Obama told the Marines at Camp Lejeune during his speech on ending the Iraq war:

Going forward, we can make a difference on several fronts. We will work with the United Nations to support national elections, while helping Iraqis improve local government. We can serve as an honest broker in pursuit of fair and durable agreements on issues that have divided Iraq’s leaders. And just as we will support Iraq’s Security Forces, we will help Iraqi institutions strengthen their capacity to protect the rule of law, confront corruption, and deliver basic services.

Diplomacy and assistance is also required to help the millions of displaced Iraqis. These men, women and children are a living consequence of this war and a challenge to stability in the region, and they must become a part of Iraq’s reconciliation and recovery. America has a strategic interest – and a moral responsibility – to act. In the coming months, my administration will provide more assistance and take steps to increase international support for countries already hosting refugees; we’ll cooperate with others to resettle Iraqis facing great personal risk; and we will work with the Iraqi government over time to resettle refugees and displaced Iraqis within Iraq – because there are few more powerful indicators of lasting peace than displaced citizens returning home.

Big job. So you’d think that Hill would have had his confirmation hearing ASAP. But according to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, it’s not even so much as scheduled.

I don’t yet know why this is. Laura Rozen reported that the Obama administration is being much more cautious with vetting prospective appointments these days after the withdrawal of cabinet nominees like Tom Daschle and Gov. Bill Richardson (D-N.M.), so maybe that’s got something to do with it. And the incoming deputy chief of mission at the embassy is Robert Ford, a longtime political officer in Baghdad, so that may mitigate the absence of Hill somewhat. But this is one of the most important U.S. diplomatic postings in the world. It should have an ambassador filling it already.

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