Key Senate Democrat backs Friedman as Ambassador to Israel

Committee chairman suggests Trump's ambassador pick will pass confirmation vote with bipartisan support.

David Rosenberg,

David Friedman in Senate confirmation hearing
David Friedman in Senate confirmation hearing

President Donald Trump’s choice for Ambassador to Israel appears to have gained support from a ranking committee Democrat, inching closer to confirmation.

David Friedman, the Ambassador-Designate to Israel, has been the target of lobbying efforts by the left-wing NGO J Street and the Reform movement, both of which have made derailing his confirmation a high priority.

After Friedman’s confirmation hearing in February in the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Union for Reform Judaism President Rick Jacobs slammed Friedman, calling him “the wrong person for this essential job at this critical time.”

But Friedman has received the backing of Jewish Federation chair Richard Sandler, as well as the Orthodox groups including the Coalition for Jewish Values, which praised Friedman as “uniquely qualified” to serve as Ambassador to Israel.

The Zionist Organization of America has also signaled its support of Friedman's nomination, calling him an "outstanding nominee" with "sterling qualifications".

While some Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must approve Friedman’s nomination before it moves to the full Senate, criticized Friedman during his confirmation hearing in February, at least one ranking Democrat on the committee has expressed his support.

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, considered a foreign relations hawk who opposed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, told The Weekly Standard that he would likely back Friedman’s nomination.

“I’m inclined to be supportive,” the senator said. “I’m reviewing his answers to questions for the record, and when I finish all of that I will make a final decision.”

Republican’s hold a narrow 11 to 10 majority on the committee, and could potentially push the confirmation through without Democratic support. That would, however, leave no room for dissent with the GOP contingent in the committee.

Yet the committee chairman, Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, expressed optimism in February that Friedman’s nomination will be approved with bipartisan support.

No date has yet been set for the confirmation vote in the committee. If Friedman is approved, his nomination will go up before the full senate, where Republicans currently hold a 52-48 edge over Democrats (including two independents who caucus with the Democratic Party).