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Oregon senator panned the potential ambassadorship of Rahm Emanuel, though it wasn't enough to block the nomination.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Sen. Jeff Merkley spoke to reporters and editors of the Pamplin Media Group in 2018.Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley was one of two Democrats to oppose the appointment of Rahm Emanuel as the next U.S. ambassador to Japan — but it wasn't enough to torpedo the nomination.

Merkley cited the Black Lives Matter movement as the reason to oppose the powerful nominee picked by the president of his own party.

"Black Lives Matter. Here in the halls of Congress, it is important that we not just speak and believe these words, but put them into action in the decisions we make," Merkley said.

Emanuel, who served as former President Obama's chief of staff, has faced condemnation from progressives who claim the longtime political powerbroker supressed footage of the fatal police shooting of Laquan McDonald when Emanuel was mayor of Chicago.

The footage, released after Emanuel had been reelected, showed the 17-year-old was walking away from police at the moment he was killed, according to The Hill.

"I have carefully considered Mayor Emanuel's record — and the input of civil rights leaders, criminal justice experts, and local elected officials who have reached out to the Senate to weigh in — and I have reached the decision that I cannot support his nomination to serve as a U.S. ambassador," Merkley said.

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey also voted against the nomination on Nov. 3, but that wasn't enough to stop the potential ambassadorship from advancing out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, according to the Washington Post.

The nomination still needs approval from the full U.S. Senate, though the Post reports that Emanuel has been working hard behind the scenes to line up bipartisan support.

Merkley's dissent already has won him some fans, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, who tweeted "this was the courageous and right thing to do."


Zane Sparling
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