GOP senator blocks nominee responsible for terrorism fight

WASHINGTON – A Republican senator on Wednesday blocked an effort to confirm President Barack Obama’s nominee for a key Treasury post responsible for leading the battle against terrorism and financial crimes.

The president nominated Adam Szubin a year ago, but his nomination has languished, caught up in Senate politics. Szubin, who has served under both Obama and predecessor George W. Bush, has worked in the anti-terror job in an acting capacity.

Democrats tried to secure a vote on Wednesday, but Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., objected, citing the possibility that the Obama administration would ease financial restrictions that prohibit U.S. dollars from being used in transactions with Iran. Cotton strenuously opposed the landmark international deal that curtailed Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanction relief.

Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who pressed for a vote, said Republicans “need to stop holding our national security apparatus hostage to political demands. We need to allow Adam Szubin and other national security nominees to be approved. The Senate needs to do its job.”

The Senate Banking Committee had approved Szubin nomination last month. The committee’s chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., had delayed action on Szubin’s and all other nominations before his panel, stubbornly refusing to act until winning his re-election primary in early March.