President Obama is sidestepping the Senate to directly fill the No. 2 position at the Justice Department and appoint four U.S. ambassadors whose nominations had been stalled or blocked by lawmakers for months.
Senators had blocked or refused to consider the confirmations of the nominees for various reasons, including questions about their qualifications. But in the most high-profile case, that of the new envoy to Syria, Robert Ford, a number of senators objected because they believed sending an ambassador to the country would reward it for bad behavior.
In the nomination fight over Mr. Cole, Democrats in the Senate tried to confirm the former Justice Department official by unanimous consent but Republicans objected, expressing concerns about his approach to terrorism cases and his work for troubled insurer American International Group.