NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama has taken another step forward in the normalizing of relations between the U.S. and Cuba by nominating the first U.S. ambassador to the island nation in over half a century.
The president announced the nomination of Jeffrey DeLaurentis on Tuesday and praised the top U.S. diplomat, who has worked in Havana since 2014, for his leadership.
“Jeff’s leadership has been vital throughout the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, and the appointment of an ambassador is a common sense step forward toward a more normal and productive relationship between our two countries,” President Obama said in a statement.
DeLaurentis’ nomination faces a fight with Congress, however, as Republican opponents of President Obama, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), have criticized renewing relations with Cuba.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), who supports the president’s push for relations with Cuba, said Tuesday he was in favor of the nomination.
“Americans traveling & doing business in #Cuba will be well-served by the prompt confirmation of Jeff DeLaurentis to serve as US ambassador,” he said in a tweet Tuesday.
Americans traveling & doing business in #Cuba will be well-served by the prompt confirmation of Jeff DeLaurentis to serve as US ambassador
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) September 27, 2016
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