Washington (CNN) - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Wednesday that gridlock in Washington may reduce U.S. power on the world stage.
"As we sell democracy, and we are the lead democracy in the world, I want the world to know we have checks and balances but we also have the capacity to move, too," Clinton told a Senate hearing.
The secretary said she was concerned that slow congressional action on approving ambassadors and other nominations had already hurt U.S. relations with other countries.
Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pennsylvania, raised the issue of the dangers of legislative gridlock during the hearing.
"(President Barack Obama) is not able to project the same kind of stature and power he was a year ago because he is being hamstrung by the Congress and it has an impact on foreign policy, on which we should try to do everything we can to try not to have partisanship influence," Specter said.
Clinton was discussing next year's $56 billion budget with the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs. She said the United States Agency of International Development (USAID) had been hampered by slow Senate action in approving nominations to senior posts.
"We finally got (USAID Administrator) Dr. Shah nominated and confirmed; there was no delay on that, and I thank you for it," Clinton said. "But he has no team. And we've got to get that moving as quickly as possible."
Clinton said slow action on senior State Department posts had made it harder for the country to demonstrate strength and unity.
"When it came to some assistant secretary positions, some ambassadorial positions, it became harder and harder to explain to countries, particularly countries of significance, why we had no one in position for them to interact with," Clinton said.
Subcommittee chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, praised Congressional cooperation on the State Department budget.
"As we listen to the complaints about broken government or paralysis in Washington, this is a bill that over the past number of years has had overwhelming bipartisan support," Leahy said. "So if anybody wants to see whether bipartisanship still exists in Congress, I don't think you have to look any further than this subcommittee."Clinton: Congressional delays put U.S. power at risk