Nine names were revealed Tuesday as President Biden's picks for various ambassadorial posts—a small step toward filling what USA Today reports are 87 vacancies. Among the most recognizable: former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as ambassador to Mexico, former Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides as ambassador to Israel, and hero pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger as US representative on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The AP notes that while on the campaign trail, Biden indicated he wouldn't lean as heavily on political appointees as President Trump did, but rather pull more from the State Department's well of career foreign service officers. Per the White House, Biden plans to keep political appointments to around 30% of ambassador picks, as Presidents Obama and Bush did; Trump's figure was 43%.
The New York Times reports the announcement is "the first batch of a multiweek rollout of nominees," with CNN earlier noting there have been "repeated delays" in getting to this point due to the deep vetting the administration did, along with its goal of achieving a diverse list. One former State Department official tells the Hill that the first batch would have ideally been announced in March or April. At the Washington Post, Daniel W. Drezner notes that Tuesday's slate didn't include expected names like Rahm Emmanuel as ambassador to Japan, Nick Burns as ambassador to China, or LA Mayor Eric Garcetti as ambassador to India. "I have read enough and heard enough to know that the Biden White House has been agonizingly slow in the confirmation process," he writes. "They look fine next to Trump, but not when compared to Obama or George W. Bush. Hopefully, the pace will quicken soon. But at least the trajectory is promising." (See the full list of nine here.)