From Oslo: Norwegians may now face the scary scenario of Donald Trump sending an ambassador

Posted: 3:37 am EDT

 

Agenda Magasin, an online magazine for political analysis and commentary based in Oslo recently published, “Congress, send Norway an ambassador” by Thor Steinhovden. Below is an excerpt:

Norway has never gone this long without an American ambassador at the U.S. Embassy in Oslo. Norwegians may now face the scary scenario of Donald Trump sending a representative, three years too late.
[…]
In September 2013 the American Ambassador to Norway, Barry White, completed his posting and left the country. 840 days later the United States has yet to send a replacement. That’s more than 120 weeks, or over two years and three months. Now, Norway risks having to wait until spring 2017. In other words, our closest ally will then have neglected to send a presidential representative for over three years.

The story behind this failure is complicated, but illustrates a political situation in the U.S. that is crippling the president’s ability to effectively carry out foreign policy. The story includes a failed nomination, “The Nuclear Option”, the P5+1 Iran deal, and not at least, the race for 2016.
[…]
For many Norwegians it probably seems both odd and incomprehensible that one of the world’s superpowers cannot manage such a simple task as to deploy an ambassador to a close ally like Norway. It becomes more incomprehensible when one considers the fact that the hold-up is not related to neither the candidate, nor the bilateral relationship.

If Donald Trump or Ted Cruz then occupy the White House, Norway may find itself welcoming a completely different character than Sam Heins. I believe most Norwegians agree with me that it is probably best for all of us if we avoid that scenario. It is time: Congress, send Norway an ambassador!

Read in full here.  A Norwegian-language version of this commentary is also available.

The article is a pretty good account of what happened to the nominations dating back to 2013 when the initial nominee melted down on C-SPAN.

We don’t know if the Heins nomination will  make it through the Senate, but even if it does get a full vote, and Mr. Heins gets to Oslo, this is an election year. There will be a new occupant in the White House come January 2017. All ambassadors –including Mr. Heins if he gets confirmed this year — resign their positions following a change in Administration. The resignations of career ambassadors are typically almost always refused, while those of political appointees are almost always accepted.  Which means, unless the nominations of political ambassadorships get confirmed soon, the window of opportunity is winding down. At some point, it becomes a waste of resources to pack and ship an ambassador designate’s household effects if he/she gets to serve as chief of mission for only a few months; that is, only to pack out again after the November 2016 elections.  Of course, it can be done, we just can’t recall an example, but would folks really subject themselves to such a relocation for a short-term ambassadorship? We’ll have to wait and see.

 

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Senator on Cruz hold over Norway nominee: 836 days since there was last a confirmed Ambassador to Norway

Posted: 1:01 am EDT

 

The Hill reports:

Sen. Ted Cruz blocked a Democratic push to approve a handful of State Department nominees on Wednesday, even though the Texas Republican is far from D.C., campaigning in New Hampshire. […]  Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), however, objected to each of the nominations, noting that he was doing so on behalf of Cruz. The presidential candidate has pledged to block State Department nominees over the Iran nuclear deal. Cardin called Cruz’s objections a “master class in needless partisan obstruction.”

Last month, Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) took to the floor to urge for the confirmation of the nominees for Sweden and Norway, but spoke at length on behalf of Sam Heins, the nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to Norway who hails from her state.

Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Madam President, I rise today to call on the Senate and all of my colleagues to allow us to move forward on the nomination of Sam Heins of Minnesota to be the U.S. Ambassador to Norway. The U.S. Ambassador for Sweden has also been held up. Coming from the State of Iowa, which I believe is over 10 percent Scandinavian–over 300,000 people–I think the Presiding Officer understands the importance of our country actually having Ambassadors to these incredibly important allies and nations.

It has now been 836 days since there was last a confirmed Ambassador to Norway, one of our most important European allies. Part of this situation was caused by a different nominee who has some issues with the committee and with other Senators. That person has now been replaced, and it has been 166 days since a new nominee went through the Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Heins was approved by a voice vote, without any controversy, as was the Ambassador to Sweden. I thank Senators Corker and Cardin and Senators McConnell and Reid for their help in trying to get this through.

Unfortunately, these nominations are now being held up by Senator Cruz. Based on my discussions with him, it is not because of the qualifications of these nominees; it is related to, I suppose, other issues. Yet, I note for those Scandinavians out there, Senator Cruz has allowed votes on Ambassadors to other countries. We have Ambassadors in France, in England, in nearly every European nation, but not these two Scandinavian countries.

Perhaps people don’t understand the importance of these nations because they just think these people wear sweaters all the time. I don’t know what they think of Norway and Sweden, but, in fact, Senator Cruz should understand that they are two of our best allies. Norway is one of our country’s strongest and most dependable allies.
[…]
I am focusing today on Norway. I will focus on Sweden in the future as I continue to give these speeches. I don’t think we can take these countries lightly just because it is cold there and darker in the winter. These are incredibly important allies and trading partners. They deserve to be treated like other European nations. They deserve to have an ambassador from the United States of America.

It is time to end this delay and do the work the Senate is supposed to do. Let’s move ahead and work to confirm these qualified nominees to represent us abroad. One is a country in Europe that just bought 22 fighter planes from Lockheed Martin. If they had bought 22 fighter planes from the Presiding Officer’s State, I believe the Presiding Officer would have looked at the fact that if it is a noncontroversial nominee to a country that invests in the United States of America, that is an ambassador we need to get confirmed, and we would get this done.

Read in full here (PDF) from the Congressional Record.

 

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Senator Grassley Explains Hold on Thomas Shannon’s Nomination to be @StateDept’s #4

Posted: 2:21 am EDT

 

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has placed a hold on the nomination of Ambassador Thomas Shannon as Foggy Bottom’s next “P.” Below is an excerpt in the Congressional Record with Mr. Grassley explaining his hold (see Senator Grassley Lifts Hold on 20 Foreign Service Nominations, Places New Hold on “P”). He stated that he is not questioning the credentials of Ambassador Shannon in any way; just pushing the State Department to “respond to congressional inquiries in a timely and reasonable manner.”

Mr. GRASSLEY. Mr. President, I intend to object to any unanimous  consent request at the present time relating to the nomination of  Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., of Virginia, a career member of the Senior  Foreign Service, class of Career Ambassador, to be an Under Secretary of State, Political Affairs.

I will object because the Department of State has still not responded  to almost a dozen investigative letters dating back to 2013. In  addition, on August 20, 2015, my staff met with Department officials in  an effort to prioritize material for production. The Department has failed to comply with its commitments, producing material late, failing  to provide all requested material, and even failing to provide material to the Senate Judiciary Committee contemporaneously with providing the same documents to Freedom of Information Act, FOIA, requestors. These are the same complaints that I raised on September 30, 2015, when I placed a hold on Brian James Egan of Maryland to be legal advisor of the Department of State. Apparently, the Department simply does not understand its obligation to respond to congressional inquiries in a timely and reasonable manner.

Two and a half years ago I began a broad inquiry into the government’s use of special government employee programs. I did not single out the State Department on this issue. To the contrary, I wrote to 16 different government agencies. Two and a half years have passed since I began my inquiry, and the State Department has still not produced the materials I have requested or certified they do not exist.

 In addition to the investigation of the Department’s special government employee program, I am also investigating the Department’s  compliance with the FOIA as it pertains to Secretary Clinton’s private server that was used to transit and store government information. The Minority Leader has questioned whether the Judiciary Committee’s jurisdiction extends to these matters. I would note that the special government employee designation is an exception to Federal criminal conflict-of-interest laws. Those laws are within the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee, as is FOIA.
[…]
As a further example of the Department’s continued intransigence, I requested all SF-312 “Classified Non-Disclosure Agreements” for Secretary Clinton, Ms. Huma Abedin, and Ms. Cheryl Mills on August 5, 2015. My staff met with Department personnel three times since that letter and participated in dozens of emails and phone calls in an effort to acquire these documents. In addition, after the Department complained that it had received too many requests from me, my staff produced a prioritized list of requests to assist the Department in producing responses. At number three on that list were the SF-312 forms, and at number one are the official emails of Mr. Pagliano. Notably, during conversations with my staff on the subject, Department personnel stated that they could not locate those forms with the exception of only page 2 of Ms. Abedin’s SF-312 exit form. On November 5, 2015, the Department produced SF-312 entrance forms for Secretary Clinton, Ms. Abedin, and Ms. Mills to a FOIA requestor but failed to provide the same to the Committee. Clearly, the documents exist.
[…]
The continued intransigence and lack of cooperation make it clear that the Department did not care enough about their Foreign Service  officer candidates to “get in gear” and begin to produce responses to  my oversight letters. Accordingly, I have released my hold on these officer candidates and have escalated to Mr. Shannon. The Department of State’s refusal to fully cooperate with my  investigations is unacceptable. As I have noted before on the floor of the Senate, the Department continues to promise results, but there has been very little or no follow-through. The Department’s good faith will be measured in documents delivered and witnesses provided.

My objection is not intended to question the credentials of Mr. Shannon in any way. However, the Department must recognize that it has an ongoing obligation to respond to congressional inquiries in a timely and reasonable manner.

Read the full entry in the Congressional Record here.

 

 

Related posts:

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@StateDept Nominations Forgotten by the Time Lords of Capitol Hill

Posted: 2:17 am EDT

 

The U.S. Senate went home for the holiday and will convene on January, 4th, 2016 at 12:00 noon for a pro forma session only, with no business to be conducted. The Senate stands adjourn until 2:00 pm on Monday, January 11th, 2016.

So we’re looking at the long list of nominees stuck both at the Executive Calendar and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the end of 2015. Some of these nominees are regular Foreign Service officers who have been waiting for confirmation for at least 24 months without action. So we sent an email to Rori Kramer, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional, Global and Functional Affairs at the Bureau of Legislative Affairs who “directs the policy-making and technical aspects of the Department’s relationship with Congress across the full range of regional, global, and functional interests of the Department of State.” 

We are  particularly interested in two things: 1) the regular FSO nominees whose names have been held at the SFRC for 2-3 years. These are not ambassador rank officials but regular FSOs. We’ve also notice that more and more, names are split from the main FS lists when they reach the SFRC; 2) we’re also looking at the high ranking nominees still waiting for confirmation.

Since the Senate composition will not change in 2016, we are curious what is the State Department’s plan to get these nominees through the Senate and into their posts in 2016? Are we looking at the next 12 months with very little movement on confirmations? What is the end game for regular FSOs whose names are held by the SFRC year after year with no vote in the Senate?

Ms. Kramer acknowledged our email but handed the inquiry off to some other State Department official who told us the following:

While the vast majority of our FSO ‎promotions have been approved, we are working for the promotion of all our waiting Foreign Service officers and nominees and will continue to do so until they are approved by the Senate.

Every foreign service promotion list that has been sent to the Senate has been approved. The State Department does not split the list in any way.

The lists, in fact, have been split in more than one occasion, below is the latest:

PN951-1 — 114th Congress (2015-2016) | STATE – Class of Career Minister (FE-CM); confirmed on 12/10/2015

PN951-2 — 114th Congress (2015-2016) STATE — Class of Career Minister (FE-CM); currently pending in the SFRC.

PN951 is obviously one promotion list until Ambassador Richard Olson‘s name was split from the list and held back at the SFRC. Ambassador Olson is currently the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP). He was previously the U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan.

As to having “Every foreign service promotion list that has been sent to the Senate has been approved,” we had to email back and asked if they realize that the following have not, in fact, been approved?

2015-11-19 PN953 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jennifer M. Adams, and ending Sunil Sebastian Xavier, which 37 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 19, 2015.

2015-11-19 PN952 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Cheryl L. Anderson, and ending Melissa A. Williams, which 11 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 19, 2015.

 

Below is a list of the pending nominations both on the Executive Calendar and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as of December 28, 2015.  Senate rules provide that “nominations neither confirmed nor rejected during the session at which they are made shall not be acted upon at any succeeding session without being again made to the Senate by the President…” In practice, such nominations have sometimes been returned to the President at the end of the first session and are always returned to the President at the end of the Congress. Nominations also may be returned automatically to the President at the beginning of a recess of more than 30 days (Senate Rule XXXI), but the rule providing for this return has often been waived (Via CRS – PDF). Senate.gov makes no indication at this time that these nominations have been returned to the President.

The most common way a nomination fails to be confirmed is through lack of action: either the committee never takes up the nomination or the Senate fails to consider it, despite committee action.

Folks, if staffers in the SFRC want to see records of FSOs all the way back to kindergarten, ought the State Department not put a warning on its careers.state.gov page? If an employee threw a punch in Kinder 1 and had been cleared of all charges, he/she better have records to show for it. Because just saying one had been cleared of any allegation or charge will not be enough.  If you or the principal’s office had shredded those reports per disposition of records regulation, well boo! on you! If the Iranians were able to reconstruct shredded cables at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, the Senate folks probably thought anyone should be able to recreate any record all the way back to the Time Lords!

There’s something inherently unfair about this that we find disturbing. If this is the new normal in the confirmation process, not just with ambassador ranked nominations but with regular Foreign Service Officers, how is this supposed to end for nominees? What is the end game for FSOs promoted by a Selection Board but whose names have been pending in the SFRC for years? Will these nominations be resubmitted to the committee periodically … but until when? How does one bid for an onward assignment if he/she had been technically promoted but not confirmed by the Senate?

And what is Secretary Kerry, formerly of the Foreign Relations Committee, doing about this?

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Pending on the Executive Calendar, 114th Congress:

PN175 Cassandra Q. Butts, of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

PN49 Azita Raji, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Sweden.

PN87 Brian James Egan, of Maryland, to be Legal Adviser of the Department of State.

PN478 Samuel D. Heins, of Minnesota, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Norway.

PN45 Marisa Lago, of New York, to be a Deputy United States Trade Representative, with the rank of Ambassador.

PN477 John L. Estrada, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

PN828 Barbara Lee, of California, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Seventieth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

PN829 Christopher H. Smith, of New Jersey, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Seventieth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

PN910 David McKean, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Luxembourg.

PN526 Roberta S. Jacobson, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the United Mexican States.

PN872 Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Ambassador, to be an Under Secretary of State (Political Affairs).

 

Pending at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC):

AMBASSADORS

2015-12-18 PN1041 Department of State Adam H. Sterling, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Slovak Republic.

2015-11-09 PN934 Department of State Karen Brevard Stewart, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

2015-11-09 PN933 Department of State Robert Annan Riley III, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federated States of Micronesia.

2015-10-21 PN915 Department of State Scot Alan Marciel, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Union of Burma.

 

STATE DEPARTMENT

2015-10-08 PN909 Department of State Amos J. Hochstein, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Energy Resources).

2015-01-08 PN48 Department of State Jennifer Ann Haverkamp, of Indiana, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

 

FS LISTS – PROMOTIONS

2015-11-19 PN953 Foreign Service Nominations beginning Jennifer M. Adams, and ending Sunil Sebastian Xavier, which 37 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 19, 2015.

2015-11-19 PN952 Foreign Service Nominations beginning Cheryl L. Anderson, and ending Melissa A. Williams, which 11 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 19, 2015.

2015-11-19 PN951-2 Foreign Service Nomination for Richard Gustave Olson, Jr., which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 19, 2015.

2015-01-13 PN72-6 Foreign Service Nominations beginning Eric N. Rumpf, and ending Daniel Menco Hirsch, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on January 13, 2015.

2015-01-13 PN71-2 Foreign Service Nominations beginning David J. Barth, and ending R. Douglass Arbuckle, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on January 13, 2015.

 

FS LISTS – APPOINTMENTS

2015-09-10 PN830 Foreign Service Nominations beginning Christopher Alexander, and ending Tipten Troidl, which 28 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on September 10, 2015.

2015-06-10 PN573-2 Foreign Service Nominations beginning Jeffries Blunt de Graffenried, Jr., and ending Christopher Nairn Steel, which 3 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 10, 2015.

2015-05-07 PN464 Foreign Service Nominations beginning Eric Del Valle, and ending Ryan Truxton, which 7 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 7, 2015.

2015-02-26 PN230-2 Foreign Service Nominations beginning David Elliott Horton III, and ending Victoria L Mitchell, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on February 26, 2015.

 

USAID

2015-12-07 PN1005 United States Agency for International Development Marcela Escobari, of Massachusetts, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.

 

STATE/INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION

2015-11-19 PN948 Asian Development Bank Swati A. Dandekar, of Iowa, to be United States Director of the Asian Development Bank, with the rank of Ambassador.

2015-10-05 PN895 Department of State Matthew John Matthews, of Oregon, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as United States Senior Official for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum

2015-09-16 PN844 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Catherine Ann Novelli, of Virginia, to be United States Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

2015-09-10 PN827 United Nations Cassandra Q. Butts, of the District of Columbia, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Seventieth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

2015-08-05 PN771 International Atomic Energy Agency Laura S. H. Holgate, of Virginia, to be the Representative of the United States of America to the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the rank of Ambassador.

2015-08-05 PN770 United Nations Laura S. H. Holgate, of Virginia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador.

2015-07-08 PN628 Department of State Mari Carmen Aponte, of the District of Columbia, to be Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador.

2015-03-04 PN240 International Monetary Fund Mark Sobel, of Virginia, to be United States Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund for a term of two years.

2015-02-26 PN229 African Development Bank Marcia Denise Occomy, of the District of Columbia, to be United States Director of the African Development Bank for a term of five years.

2015-02-26 PN228 Inter-American Development Bank Mileydi Guilarte, of the District of Columbia, to be United States Alternate Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank.

 

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Whoa! That’s a Pretty Thin Senior Foreign Service Promotion List You Got There!

Posted: 3:17 am EDT

 

The Sad Batman Via @FS_Problems:

When you see the promotion statistics and realize just how few people are getting promoted

AFSA used to publish the FS promotion lists (which are unclassified docs) during the Johnson-Hirsch tenure but it stopped doing that a few years back. The lists below are from senate.gov and are promotions of career members of the Service under section 605 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (Act) based on recommendations and rankings of Selection Boards established under section 602 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (career member promotions into and within the Senior Foreign Service also require the approval of the President).

This looks like a pretty thin promotion list for the Senior Foreign Service. Not only that, most of the names in these promotion lists are still stuck in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) until heaven knows when. We have not been able to locate the  promotion lists for the midlevel ranks as of this writing. The promotion statistics will not be publicly available until published by State Magazine in mid-2016.

PN951-1 114th Congress (2015-2016) | STATE – Class of Career Minister (FE-CM); confirmed on 12/10/2015

The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service to the class indicated: Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Career Minister

James F. Entwistle Virginia
Brian A. Nichols California
Daniel R. Russel California

PN951-2 — 114th Congress (2015-2016) STATE — Class of Career Minister (FE-CM); currently pending in the SFRC.

The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service to the class indicated: Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Career Minister:

Richard Gustave Olson Jr. — Foreign Service

PN952 114th Congress (2015-2016) USAID – Class of Career-Minister (FE-CM); currently pending in the SFRC
The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service to the classes indicated: Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career-Minister:

Cheryl L. Anderson Virginia
William R. Brands Arizona
Thomas R. Delaney Pennsylvania
Michael T. Harvey Texas
Brooke Andrea Isham Washington
Janina Anne Jaruzelski New Jersey
Charles E. North Virginia
Beth S. Paige Texas
Thomas H. Staal Maryland
Dennis J. Weller Illinois
Melissa A. Williams Virginia

PN000 114th Congress (2015-2016) STATE – Minister Counselor (FE-MC) — anyone promoted to this rank at the State Department?

PN953 114th Congress (2015-2016)  USAID – Class of Minister Counselor (FE-MC), currently pending in the SFRC).

The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for promotion within the Senior Foreign Service to the classes indicated: Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor:

Jennifer M. Adams Virginia
Rebecca R. W. Black New Mexico
Sherry Faith Carlin Florida
Nancy L. Estes Florida
Erin Elizabeth McKee Virginia
Leslie K. Reed California
John Mark Winfield Maryland

PN953114th Congress (2015-2016) STATE – Class of Counselor (FE-OC), currently pending in the SFRC.

The following-named Career Members of the Foreign Service for promotion into the Senior Foreign Service, as indicated: Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service of the United States of America, Class of Counselor:

Kathy E. Body Maryland
David G. Brown Maryland
Beverly A. Busa California
John J. Cardenas California
Sharon Thams Carter Florida
Katherine Ashton Crawford Maryland
Christopher M. Cushing Florida
Holly L. Ferrette Maryland
Ramona M. El Hamzaoui New Hampshire
Craig K. Hart Virginia
Mary Melinda Hobbs Missouri
Edith I. Houston Virginia
Barbara W. Hughes Connecticut
Elise M. Jensen Massachusetts
Karen D. Klimowski California
Julie A. Koenen California
Gary Linden Virginia
Marcia Musisi-Nkambwe Arizona
Anne Elizabeth Patterson District of Columbia
Evelyn Rodriguez Perez Florida
Leslie A. Perry Colorado
Patrick L. Robinson New Hampshire
Lawrence J. Sacks Missouri
Sheryl A. Stumbras Florida
Aye Aye Thwin Maryland
Christophe Andre Tocco California
Amy C. Tohill-Stull Virginia
Theresa G. Tuano Maryland
Peter A. Wiebler Virginia
Sunil Sebastian Xavier Virginia

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Obama Names @StateDept Spox John Kirby as New Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs

Posted: 2:03 am EDT

 

We heard this back in October (@StateDept’s Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs: Doug Frantz Out, John Kirby In). On December 10, the White House officially announced President Obama’s intent to nominate State Department spokesman John Kirby to be Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. He will succeed Douglas Frantz (Kerry’s deputy staff director and chief investigator of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he was a senator) who was announced as Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in October. It looks like Admiral Kirby will be dual hatted as A/S and spokesperson.

Below is Kirby’s official bio via state.gov (we’re quite sure this position requires a Senate confirmation we’re told this position no longer requires Senate confirmation. Thanks @APDiploWriter):

John Kirby was appointed as the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Public Affairs on December 11, 2015.  Prior to that he served as the the Spokesperson for the Department of State. Kirby previously served as Pentagon Press Secretary, serving for more than a year as the chief spokesman for the Department of Defense and for former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. He retired from the Navy in May 2015 with the rank of Rear Admiral.

Kirby was commissioned in September 1986 after completing Officer Candidate School at Newport, R.I. He qualified as a surface warfare officer aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Aubrey Fitch (FFG 34). As a public affairs officer, Kirby served at sea aboard the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CV 59) and on the staff of the Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, embarked aboard the command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20).

While ashore, Kirby completed tours as an instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy; public affairs officer with the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron (Blue Angels); editor-in-chief of the Navy’s Flagship monthly magazine, All Hands; the staffs of the Chief of Naval Personnel, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, Chief of Naval Operations, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Media Operations.

Kirby also served as the U.S. Navy’s Chief of Information (CHINFO), serving as the principal spokesman for the Department of the Navy and providing strategic communication counsel to the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations. As CHINFO, he led the Navy’s public affairs community consisting of more than 2,700 active and reserve officer, enlisted and civilian communication professionals.

John Kirby grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla., graduating from St. Petersburg Catholic High School in 1981. He is a 1985 graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla., where he received a Bachelor’s degree in History. He holds a Master of Science degree in International Relations from Troy State University and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.

According to history.state.gov, the Department of State created the position of Assistant Secretary of State for Public and Cultural Relations during a general reorganization in Dec 1944, after Congress authorized an increase in the number of Assistant Secretaries in the Department from four to six (Dec 8, 1944; P.L. 78-472; 58 Stat. 798). The reorganization was the first to designate substantive designations for specific Assistant Secretary positions. The Department changed the title to Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs in 1946. American poet Archibald MacLeish served as the first Assistant Secretary from December 1944-August 1945.

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Related posts:

@StateDept’s Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs: Doug Frantz Out, John Kirby In

Don’t Worry, Be Happy — John Kirby Officially Takes Over as @StateDeptSpox

Tweet of the Day: Admiral John Kirby as Next Foggy Bottom Spokesman

Shuffling the Spoxes: Admiral Kirby Out, Psaki to White House, New Spoxes Race Is On!

 

Senate Confirmations: Ebert-Gray, Hill, Feeley, Rubin, Scott, Chapman, Manes, Taglialatela

Posted: 12:51 am EDT

 

The U.S. Senate confirmed the following executive nominations for ambassadorial posts overseas by voice vote on Wednesday, December 9. We have included below links to the confirmed nominees’ publicly available certificates of competency from state.gov:

Papua New GuineaExecutive Calendar #415 – Catherine Ebert-Gray, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Solomon Islands and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Vanuatu.
— Ebert-Gray, Catherine – Independent State of Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Republic of Vanuatu – July 2015

MaltaExecutive Calendar #416 – G. Kathleen Hill, of Colorado, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Malta.
Hill G. Kathaleen – Republic of Malta – July 2015

PanamaExecutive Calendar #417 – John D. Feeley, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Panama. Feeley, John D. – Republic of Panama – July 2015

BulgariaExecutive Calendar #418 – Eric Seth Rubin, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Bulgaria.
Rubin, Eric Seth – Republic of Bulgaria – October 2015

SerbiaExecutive Calendar #419 – Kyle R. Scott, of Arizona, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Serbia.
Scott Kyle Randolph – Republic of Serbia

EcuadorExecutive Calendar #420 – Todd C. Chapman, of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Ecuador.
Chapman, Todd C. – Republic of Ecuador – October 2015

El SalvadorExecutive Calendar #422 – Jean Elizabeth Manes, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of El Salvador.
Manes, Jean Elizabeth – Republic of El Salvador – November 2015

Barbados+Executive Calendar #423 – Linda Swartz Taglialatela, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Barbados, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Taglialatela, Linda Swartz – Barbados and other Eastern Carribbean States – November -2015

 

Here’s a bonus tweet:

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The 10 Best of Public Diplomacy — Nominations Open Until Dec 28

Posted: 11:08 pm EDT

 

We’re passing this along for our friends at the Public Diplomacy Council:

It’s time for you to nominate one or more of the ten best public diplomacy acts, actions, ideas, programs or decisions of 2015.

The rules are simple: anyone can make a nomination.  In fact, nominations are welcome from active and retired public diplomacy officers as well as from Ambassadors, DCM’s and other observers of public diplomacy in academe, business and government.

The procedure is simple too:  use a subject line of no more than a dozen (12) words to identify the action, idea, program or decision you are nominating.  Then, if you want to, in the body of the message, in 140 characters or less, say why you believe this nomination is one of the year’s ten best in public diplomacy. Or, maybe it’s obvious?

Send your nomination to the Public Diplomacy Council’s special “Ten Best” inbox at “PD10Best@gmail.com

Nominations must be received in the email inbox by noon Monday, December 28, to be considered.

Identity of the person or group nominating will remain confidential.  All decisions in selecting the “Ten Best” of 2015 are made by a jury of PDC members, are final, and are not subject to appeal.

 The 10 best of Public Diplomacy will be announced on December 31 on the Public Diplomacy Council website.

 Send your nominations now!  and pass this message on!

The Public Diplomacy Council was founded in 1988 as the Public Diplomacy Foundation. Dedicated to fostering greater public recognition of public diplomacy in the conduct of foreign affairs, the Foundation evolved to serve also as a resource and advocate for the teaching, training, and development of public diplomacy as an academic discipline. The Council is a nonprofit organization committed to the importance of the academic study, professional practice, and responsible advocacy of public diplomacy.

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Senator Grassley Lifts Hold on 20 Foreign Service Nominations, Places New Hold on “P”

Posted: 4:10  am EDT

 

The nominations were received in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations in June 2015.  On August 5, the SFRC cleared a short Foreign Service list (PN573-4) containing 20 nominees for “appointment as Foreign Service Officer of Class Two, Consular Officer and Secretary in the Diplomatic Service of the United States of America.” The nominations went nowhere due to a Senate hold exercised by Senator Chuck Grassley.

According to The Hill, the Senator has now lifted his hold on nearly two dozen nominations, but has moved his hold on to a bigger fish. There goes “P.”

Grassley’s office confirmed that the Judiciary Committee chairman had lifted his hold on 20 foreign service officer nominations.

But the Iowa Republican also added a hold on a top State Department nominee, telling leadership that he intends to block Thomas Shannon’s nomination to be the under secretary of political affairs.

Grassley is also continuing his hold on Brian James Egan’s nomination to be a legal adviser for the department, as well as David Malcolm Robinson’s nomination to be assistant secretary for conflict and stabilization operations and coordinator for reconstruction and stabilization.

 

 

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Related posts:

Senators Grassley and Cotton Now Have 25 @StateDept Nominations Glued Down, and Going Nowhere

Senator Grassley Places Hold on 20 FSO Nominations Over Clinton Inquiry

 

 

With about 20 days left in session, time is running short for nominees in Senate logjam

Posted: 12:02 am EDT

 

It looks like the Senate will not be back at work until November 16-20, and again, from Nov 30-December 18. That’s from a tentative schedule (pdf) but that leaves us with approximately 20 working days before the body adjourns for the year.

The following are the nominees pending on the Executive Calendar. They have cleared the SFRC and just need the full Senate vote before they can go packing:

BAHAMAS | Cassandra Q. Butts, of the District of Columbia, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas (cleared by SFRC on May 21, 2015; subject of a Senate hold on Oct. 5, 2015  by Mr. Cotton).

SWEDEN| Azita Raji, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Sweden (cleared by SFRC on June 10, 2015; subject of  Senate hold on Oct. 5, 2015  by Mr. Cotton)

NORWAY | Samuel D. Heins, of Minnesota, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Norway (cleared by SFRC on July 29; subject of  Senate hold on Oct. 5, 2015  by Mr. Cotton).

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO | John L. Estrada, of Florida, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (cleared by SFRC on October 1)

STATE/L | Brian James Egan, of Maryland, to be Legal Adviser of the Department of State, vice Harold Hongju Koh, resigned (cleared by SFRC on June 25, 2015; subject of a Senate hold on Sept. 30, 2015 by  Mr. Grassley)

STATE/CSO | David Malcolm Robinson, of Connecticut, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Conflict and Stabilization Operations), vice Frederick D. Barton, resigned (cleared by SFRC on October 1; subject of a Senate hold on Aug. 4, 2015 by Mr. Grassley)

USAID | Gayle Smith, of Ohio, to be Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Rajiv J. Shah, resigned (cleared by SFRC on July 29; potential snag to this nomination has been reported to include Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) although no formal objection has been filed in the Senate.

USAID | Thomas O. Melia, of Maryland, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, vice Paige Eve Alexander, resigned  (cleared by SFRC on July 29).

USAID/OIG | Ann Calvaresi Barr, of Maryland, to be Inspector General, United States Agency for International Development, vice Donald A. Gambatesa, resigned (cleared by SFRC on October 1, and by HSGA on October 22).

USAID | 2015-08-05 PN769 Linda I. Etim, of Wisconsin, to be an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (cleared by the SFRC on Nov 10).

UNGA | Barbara Lee, of California, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Seventieth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (cleared by SFRC on October 1).

UNGA  | Christopher H. Smith, of New Jersey, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Seventieth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations (cleared by SFRC on October 1).

Cleared by the SFRC on November 10:

2015-06-02 PN526 MEXICO | Roberta S. Jacobson, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the United Mexican States (potential snag to this nomination from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) reported via Politico, though no formal objection has been filed in the Senate).

2015-07-08 PN629 LIBYA | Peter William Bodde, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Libya.

2015-07-08 PN633 TAJIKISTAN | Elisabeth I. Millard, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Tajikistan.

2015-07-16 PN671 OMAN | Marc Jonathan Sievers, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Sultanate of Oman.

2015-09-16 PN843 UGANDA | Deborah R. Malac, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uganda.

2015-09-16 PN845 SWAZILAND | Lisa J. Peterson, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Swaziland.

2015-09-16 PN846 MOZAMBIQUE | H. Dean Pittman, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Mozambique.

2015-11-09 PN933 MICRONESIA | Robert Annan Riley III, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federated States of Micronesia.

2015-09-21 PN872 STATE/P | Thomas A. Shannon, Jr., of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Ambassador, to be an Under Secretary of State (Political Affairs).

2015-07-16 PN672 OPCW | Kenneth Damian Ward, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as United States Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

2015-06-16 PN579 OPIC | John Morton, of Massachusetts, to be Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation.

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Philip Arsenault has been tracking the length of time these nominees have waited pending confirmation.  At least 13 nominees have waited over a hundred days and there is no end in sight. At least four of these nominees have been renominated once before.  John Estrada, the nominee for Trinidad and Tobago has waited the longest at over 800 days. Some of these nominees, particularly the political appointees may not want to have their lives on hold while they wait for the Senate to make up its mind, and will probably decline to be renominated a second time. Most of these nominees will likely be renominated if the Senate fails to act on the nominations this year but we can’t imagine right now that 2016 will be any different. The confirmation process has grown wilder and more unpredictable. That’s true even for midlevel career diplomats, as can be seen with the multiple Foreign Service lists that continue to languished within the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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The following are the nominees submitted by the President to the Senate for confirmation during the current congress. They are currently undergoing committee consideration at the SFRC according to senate.gov:

AMBASSADORS

2015-11-09 PN934 MARSHALL ISLANDS | Karen Brevard Stewart, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

2015-10-21 PN916 BARBADOS+ | Linda Swartz Taglialatela, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Barbados, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

2015-10-21 PN915 BURMA | Scot Alan Marciel, of California, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Union of Burma.

2015-10-21 PN914 EL SALVADOR | Jean Elizabeth Manes, of Florida, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of El Salvador.

2015-10-08 PN910 LUXEMBOURG | David McKean, of Massachusetts, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Luxembourg.

2015-10-05 PN894 ECUADOR | Todd C. Chapman, of Texas, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Ecuador.

2015-09-16 PN848 SERBIA | Kyle R. Scott, of Arizona, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Serbia.

2015-09-16 PN847 BULGARIA  | Eric Seth Rubin, of New York, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Bulgaria.

2015-07-30 PN744 PANAMA | John D. Feeley, of the District of Columbia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Panama.

2015-07-08 PN632 MALTA | G. Kathleen Hill, of Colorado, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Malta.

2015-07-08 PN630 PAPUA NEW GUINEA/SOLOMON IS/VANUATU | Catherine Ebert-Gray, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Solomon Islands and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Vanuatu.

STATE DEPARTMENT

2015-10-08 PN909 STATE/ENR | Amos J. Hochstein, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Energy Resources).

2015-01-08 PN48 STATE/OES | Jennifer Ann Haverkamp, of Indiana, to be Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

2015-10-05 PN895 APEC | Matthew John Matthews, of Oregon, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as United States Senior Official for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum.

2015-07-08 PN628 OAS | Mari Carmen Aponte, of the District of Columbia, to be Permanent Representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, with the rank of Ambassador.

2015-09-10 PN827 UNGA | Cassandra Q. Butts, of the District of Columbia, to be a Representative of the United States of America to the Seventieth Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

2015-08-05 PN771 IAEA | Laura S. H. Holgate, of Virginia, to be the Representative of the United States of America to the International Atomic Energy Agency, with the rank of Ambassador.

2015-08-05 PN770 UNVIE | Laura S. H. Holgate, of Virginia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador.


OTHERS

2015-01-08 PN50 Peace Corps | Carlos J. Torres, of Virginia, to be Deputy Director of the Peace Corps.

2015-09-16 PN844 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development | Catherine Ann Novelli, of Virginia, to be United States Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

2015-03-04 PN240 International Monetary Fund | Mark Sobel, of Virginia, to be United States Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund for a term of two years.

2015-02-26 PN229 African Development Bank | Marcia Denise Occomy, of the District of Columbia, to be United States Director of the African Development Bank for a term of five years.

2015-02-26 PN228 Inter-American Development Bank | Mileydi Guilarte, of the District of Columbia, to be United States Alternate Executive Director of the Inter-American Development Bank.

FOREIGN SERVICE LISTS pending at the SFRC:

2015-11-10 PN939 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Steven Carl Aaberg, and ending Sandra M. Zuniga Guzman, which 119 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on November 10, 2015.

2015-09-21 PN877-2 Foreign Service | Nomination for Derell Kennedo, which nomination was received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on September 21, 2015.

2015-09-10 PN830 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Christopher Alexander, and ending Tipten Troidl, which 28 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on September 10, 2015.

2015-06-10 PN573-2 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Jeffries Blunt de Graffenried, Jr., and ending Christopher Nairn Steel, which 3 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on June 10, 2015.

2015-05-07 PN464 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Eric Del Valle, and ending Ryan Truxton, which 7 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on May 7, 2015.

2015-02-26 PN230-2 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning David Elliott Horton III, and ending Victoria L Mitchell, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on February 26, 2015.

2015-01-13 PN72-4 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning Eric N. Rumpf, and ending Daniel Menco Hirsch, which 3 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on January 13, 2015.

2015-01-13 PN71-2 Foreign Service | Nominations beginning David J. Barth, and ending R. Douglass Arbuckle, which 2 nominations were received by the Senate and appeared in the Congressional Record on January 13, 2015.

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