Ranking Member Menendez Delivers Opening Remarks at Nominations Committee Hearing

Ranking Member Menendez Delivers Opening Remarks at Nominations Committee Hearing

“At every turn, the Trump administration has unfortunately sought to undermine multilateral institutions. The administration’s actions — in my view — don’t make America great. They make America alone.”

 

WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today delivered the following opening statement at this morning’s committee hearing on the nominations of: Jennifer Yue Barber to be the Representative of the United States of America on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador, and to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations during her tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations; Edward A. Burrier to be Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the United States International Development Finance Corporation; Lieutenant General Keith W. Dayton to be Ambassador to Ukraine; Julie D. Fisher to be Ambassador to the Republic of Belarus; and Alex Nelson Wong to be Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations with the rank of Ambassador, and to be an Alternate Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations during his tenure of service as Alternate Representative of the United States of America for Special Political Affairs in the United Nations.

“At every turn, the Trump administration has unfortunately sought to undermine multilateral institutions. The administration’s actions — in my view — don’t make America great. They make America alone,” Ranking Member Menendez said. “President Trump’s announced intent to withdraw from the World Health Organization exemplifies a culture of blame-shifting and isolationism that is self-defeating for the United States. It is astonishing that, during the height of a pandemic, the principal institution charged with leading and coordinating a global response will no longer receive U.S. support.” 

Below are Ranking Member Menendez’s full remarks as delivered:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome to all of the nominees.

Mr. Chairman, before I address the nominees before us, I am compelled to note that this is, unfortunately, another in a series of nominations hearings that you have noticed unilaterally, over the objections of the Minority, and to a large extent, without our input. Additionally, two of the three hearings this week were noticed without securing a Democratic Ranking Member for the hearing, and one of them was noticed in violation of the Committee practice under the 7-day rule, which is unfortunate.

Clearly the Chairman has the authority to run the Committee in this manner, but it is a drastic departure from Committee practice and sets a precedent for how this Committee will run under any future majority, Democratic or Republican.

It is also disappointing that the Committee is holding five nominations hearings and a nominations-only business meeting this work period, but we have not marked up a bill since May. Nominations are an important committee function, but to be relevant we need to be engaged and legislating on the issues that matter to Americans. I know many members of the Committee, both Democratic and Republican, want this to happen and I hope it can happen in the days ahead.

Finally, given the intense interest and sensitivity of the issues surrounding Ukraine, I had suggested that General Dayton should be on a panel by himself or at minimum with just one other nominee. Squeezing him in on a panel of five does not do justice on this set of issues, so Mr. Chairman I hope you will be generous in time especially as we have to deal with all of these nominees in one panel.

This committee has long been a stalwart champion for the relationship with Ukraine. As Chairman, I led efforts on two laws that were passed in the wake of Russia’s invasion of the country in 2014. As the Chairman mentioned, just last week, we joined together — Chairman Risch and I — to introduce legislation that will substantially increase FMF and IMET for the country.

The fact remains that Ukraine is under daily assault on the ground, on the seas, and in cyberspace from an aggressive Kremlin. Ukrainian service members that have selflessly and courageously fought Russian forces that seek to violate its sovereignty and disrupt the international order are constantly challenged.

President Trump significantly damaged our standing with Ukraine and undermines our own national security by holding security assistance hostage to his political agenda. That was a challenge to our relationship which led to impeachment proceedings. It is now more important than ever for the Senate to speak with one voice in support for Ukraine, especially in the provision of security assistance. I am glad that we were able to send that clear message with our legislation.

General Dayton, if you are confirmed, you will have very big shoes to fill in Kyiv, those of Masha Yovanovitch and Bill Taylor. Both were not only exemplary diplomats and representatives of the United States but had the courage to speak truth to power. I hope that you will also be up to that task.

Rudy Giuliani and a cast of unsavory Ukrainian characters have not let up in their efforts to use Ukraine to interfere in U.S. politics. Others in the Senate seem intent on amplifying their efforts. I expect that if confirmed you will not engage in these games, and I will want your commitments towards that end.

Ms. Fisher, I am glad to have you with us today. You are the first nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Belarus in over a decade. Your nomination comes at a critical time, as Belarus’s people are rising to demand democracy and respect for human rights in unprecedented numbers. The Belarussian government’s move away from Russia is important, but we cannot ignore the voices of the Belarussian people. The centerpiece of our policy on Belarus must be a commitment to democracy and human rights, and I look forward to hearing from you on what steps you will take, if confirmed, to support the aspirations of the Belarussian people.

Ms. Barber and Mr. Wong, welcome. At every turn, the Trump administration has unfortunately sought to undermine multilateral institutions. The administration’s actions — in my view — don’t make America great. They make America alone. President Trump’s announced intent to withdraw from the World Health Organization exemplifies a culture of blame-shifting and isolationism that is self-defeating for the United States. It is astonishing that, during the height of a pandemic, the principal institution charged with leading and coordinating a global response will no longer receive U.S. support.

I am likewise deeply troubled by the attempts of the administration to limit gender equality and restrict the rights of women and girls. It is unacceptable that the U.S. Government representatives at the UN have sought to remove references to long-standing and agreed-upon language on gender-based violence and sexual & reproductive health. We must lead the collective commitment to advance fundamental rights and freedoms for all rather than undermine the rights of some, and I look forward to hearing from the nominees on these issues.

Mr. Burrier, welcome. You seem well-suited for the job and rounding out the leadership circle at the DFC is incredibly important. However, I have serious concerns with some of the DFC’s actions that I need the nominee’s commitment to address. That includes the authorities that were granted to the DFC under the Defense Production Act executive order signed by the President, as well as concerns with how the DFC is pursuing Environmental and Social policy.

I know you were not there to make those decisions, but I want to hear how you would deal with them if confirmed.

With that, Mr. Chairman, thank you.”

 

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