The White House on Monday still wouldn't commit to a timeline for nominating an ambassador to Cuba on the same day it hailed the opening of embassies in Washington and Havana, and an historic new beginning to the America's relationship with the island nation.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked repeatedly when President Obama might name an ambassador now that embassies are opened in both countries, but he continued to deflect.
Earnest said only that he "expects" Obama to name an ambassador at some point, after first repeating previous statements that he doesn't have any personnel announcements or a timeline for one.
"I don't have a specific commitment to share with you in terms of when this person would be announced and who that person would be," he said.
The current head of the U.S. embassy in Havana, previously known as the U.S. Interests Section, is Jeffrey DeLaurentis, a 24-year veteran of the foreign service. Earnest said DeLaurentis has extensive experience and can handle the job of acting director until an ambassador is installed.
He added that the administration believes that U.S. interests in Cuba would be "best represented" by a full time ambassador there, but he had no "time frame" or leading candidate for the post to share.
Since announcing plans to open the embassies in early July, the White House signaled that it intends to nominate an ambassador, although it is likely waiting until after the Senate considers the contentious nuclear deal with Iran over the next 60 days.
Republicans are sure to oppose any Cuban ambassador nomination, which would undoubtedly turn into a fierce debate over the merits of renewing ties to the island nation.
Some longtime observers of U.S.-Cuban relations have suggested that the president might want to avoid an entrenched battle over an ambassador nomination, especially with the Iran deal taking center stage. But Earnest's admission that he expected Obama to name an ambassador suggests that the White House could simply be delaying the nomination until after the Iran deal is wrapped up.