Jeramey Jannene

Senate Committee Schedules Vote On Barrett’s Ambassadorship

Senate Committee on Foreign Relations poised to advance nomination to full Senate.

By - Dec 9th, 2021 12:50 pm
Mayor Tom Barrett in "Reflections on a Historic Year" speech. Image from video.

Mayor Tom Barrett in “Reflections on a Historic Year” speech. Image from video.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett‘s nomination to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg could soon be headed to the full U.S. Senate for a vote.

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations scheduled a “business meeting” for Wednesday, Dec. 15 to consider forwarding Barrett’s nomination, alongside seven others, to the full Senate.

Barrett appeared before the committee on Nov. 2 for a hearing.

President Joe Biden nominated Barrett to serve as the ambassador to Luxembourg on Aug. 25.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) are holding up full Senate consent votes for more than 50 Biden nominees because of often-unrelated foreign policy issues. Cruz is reportedly concerned with a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. Hawley is demanding top Biden defense officials resign.

If Barrett’s nomination is advanced out of committee, it would end up stuck in that queue of nominations needing a special floor vote.

The timing of Barrett’s ambassadorship is critical not only for the candidates vying to replace him in Milwaukee, but for the city’s budget.

Conducting a stand-alone special election would cost $700,000, including both a primary and general election and the staffing necessary to man the polling locations.

If the full Senate confirms Barrett by Dec. 28 a special election could be called to coincide with the already scheduled spring elections, effectively eliminating the extra cost. A primary would be held on Feb. 15 and a general election on April 5.

If Barrett resigns between Feb. 15 and Mar. 2, the mayoral primary could occur on the date of the spring general election (April 5) and a special, mayoral general election would take place May 3. That would cost the city an additional $350,000.

Starting with a mid-April resignation, the city could explore lining up the scheduled fall, partisan elections with the non-partisan mayoral race.

Barrett, under any scenario, could ask the Biden administration to delay a final procedural act. That delay would allow him to extend his time in Milwaukee until his resignation falls during a cost-saving window that allows the elections to line up.

When Barrett resigns, Common Council President Cavalier Johnson becomes acting mayor and the council must call a special election “as promptly as possible” under state statute. State law also governs the windows under which the mayoral special election could be called to coincide with already scheduled elections.

The winner of the special election would not get a full four-year term, but instead would serve out the remainder of Barrett’s term, which ends in April 2024.

Seven candidates have filed to run: Johnson, Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, Sheriff Earnell Lucas, former alderman Robert Donovan, entrepreneur Michael Sampson, activist Nicholas McVey and Sheila Conley-Patterson.

Barrett, 67, would lead the U.S. embassy, located in Luxembourg City. Situated between Germany, France and Belgium, Luxembourg has a population of approximately 620,000, similar to Milwaukee. But despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe, the country is approximately 10 times the size of the City of Milwaukee.

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Categories: Politics, Weekly

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