By Julian Pecquet, TheHill.com
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is vowing to break with conservatives in his party and help confirm President Obama’s controversial choice for ambassador to El Salvador when she comes before the Senate, possibly as early as Wednesday.
Obama gave Mari Carmen Aponte a recess appointment in 2010 but it expired at the end of last year after Senate Republicans filibustered her. Some Republicans have raised concerns that Aponte might have dated a Cuban spy 20 years ago, while others sought to use her nomination to pressure the administration to change other Latin American policies.
Rubio, a possible GOP vice presidential candidate and rising star in the Republican Party, initially opposed Aponte’s nomination, but has since shifted, a spokesman told The Hill.
“When this issue came up last year, Sen. Rubio was opposing several western hemisphere nominations because of concerns with the administration’s policies in the hemisphere, especially in Nicaragua,” Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told The Hill in an email. “We worked behind the scenes with the Administration and reached an agreement on Nicaragua, so the senator agreed to vote for cloture on Aponte and find enough Republican votes (6) for her to pass.”
“Since Sen. Rubio’s opposition was never based on her personally and the administration has address(ed) his policy concerns, he looks forward to voting for her whenever Senator [Harry] Reid (D-Nev.) brings her up for another vote.”
Conant added that Rubio has found enough Republicans for her to get the 60 votes she needs. One of those Republicans, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), is still recovering from a stroke, however.
Rubio is under pressure from powerful Hispanic groups to support Aponte, who was born in Puerto Rico. Conant said Aponte has personally thanked Rubio for his support.