Ranking Member Menendez Opening Remarks at Committee Business Meeting | July 2020

Ranking Member Menendez Opening Remarks at Committee Business Meeting | July 2020

  

 

WASHINGTON – Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the beginning of today’s Foreign Relations Committee business meeting.  

“We are here because Secretary Pompeo pressured to move certain nominees over our objection — objections that go to the core of whether we are a coequal branch of government or simply a doormat for the Secretary and the President,” said Ranking Member Menendez, noting the lack of clarity as to whether any senators or staff in the room should be in quarantine after NSA Robert O’Brien tested positive for COVID-19. “Along with so many of you, I fervently support a highly functioning and robust State Department, led by qualified and suitable Senate-confirmed officials — a State Department that is capable and empowered to project American diplomacy and to advance our national security interests. But I am also realistic. I understand that this vision is incompatible with this President and his administration and that the Committee has been unwilling to advance this vision during the 116th Congress.”

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

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’m going to be brief.

We all know why we are here today at an in-person business meeting in the middle of a pandemic, at an in-person business meeting that has no urgency, an in-person meeting where we do not have clear answers whether any senators or staff should be in quarantine due to exposure to Robert O’Brien, who recently tested positive for COVID-19. 

We are here because Secretary Pompeo pressured to move certain nominees over our objection — objections that go to the core of whether we are a coequal branch of government or simply a doormat for the Secretary and the President.

I don’t plan to repeat the objections that I expressed at last week’s hearings — though I want to ask you now for consent to include my statements from those hearings in the record for this business meeting. Mr. Chairman?

I did not run for office to fight over nominations. I don’t believe any of us did. I ran for office because I believe in service — because I want what is best for the government, for our country, and for the American people. And, I know that all of you share those motivations, regardless of whether we agree on specific outcomes. 

Along with so many of you, I fervently support a highly functioning and robust State Department, led by qualified and suitable Senate-confirmed officials — a State Department that is capable and empowered to project American diplomacy and to advance our national security interests. But I am also realistic. I understand that this vision is incompatible with this President and his administration and that the Committee has been unwilling to advance this vision during the 116th Congress.

While I look forward to supporting a majority of the nominations on today’s agenda, I must conclude by noting with regret that today’s meeting — and particularly the inclusion of Mr. Billingslea — does not do justice to the Senate, the Constitution, or the American people, and it sets another precedent for the running of this Committee without regard to comity or the views of the Minority.”

 

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