Menendez Statement on Tillerson Vote

Menendez Statement on Tillerson Vote

US Senator Bob Menendez, senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement ahead of the Committee vote on the nomination of Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State:

“After carefully considering his nomination to be the Secretary of State, I will be casting my vote against Mr. Tillerson’s confirmation in both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on the Senate Floor. 

“For the 11 years I have served on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I have taken the role of “advice and consent” of State Department nominees seriously. While considering hundreds of nominations for both Democratic and Republican administrations, even where I disagreed with the nominee’s views – especially when they were just espousing the views of an administration – I have often supported them if the other qualifications of the position I considered important were met.

“I respect Mr. Tillerson’s experience and willingness to serve his country, but after our private meeting and lengthy public confirmation process, I remain deeply troubled by a number of Mr. Tillerson’s responses and beliefs. 

“I am not convinced that Mr. Tillerson shares a worldview that the United States’ foreign policy must be rooted in the values that strengthen us as a nation: championing democracy; upholding the rule of law; and protecting human rights.  As I said during his hearing, business dealmaking is not diplomacy, and I am remain doubtful that Mr. Tillerson would fully embrace a wide-ranging policy to strengthen our alliances and forcefully confront our adversaries. 

“Additionally, I believe Mr. Tillerson was not entirely forthcoming in his response to my questions about both his personal and ExxonMobil’s lobbying against sanctions – one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal of peaceful diplomatic levers, and many of which I personally wrote.  If I am charged with responsibility to advise and consent, if I am to vote affirmatively for a nominee, I need honest and transparent answers.  I simply do not feel I got them from Mr. Tillerson.

“Finally, as I said at the hearing, at a time when Russia’s continuing aggression around the world and interference in our election must be at the top of America’s diplomatic agenda and of chief concern to our Secretary of State, it is incredibly troublesome that Mr. Tillerson and President Trump had not discussed the specifics of their Russia policy.   

“Mr. Tillerson proved he lacks the sufficient knowledge or regard for the norms and necessities that so much of our modern diplomatic and security efforts depend upon, and I believe the American people deserve a chief diplomat to fully advocate for the interest and national security of all.”