Senate Confirmation Fight in the Horizon Once Again? Tick-Tock

 

The 70th Secretary of State is now publicly pushing to have his senior officials confirmed by the Senate. When the Senators returns from their election break, they have less than 20 working days left for the year.  And it looks like judicial nominees are taking precedence. Tick-Tock.

Hey, just a few years ago, the 69th Secretary of State was looking to have his senior officials confirmed, too. And that was months before the mid-terms. One of the nominees, Cassandra Q. Butts even spent 835 days after she was nominated waiting for Senate confirmation; she died waiting. GOP Senators put a hold on the nomination unrelated to her qualification.

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How Cartoonists Around the World See U.S.-Saudi Response to #KhashoggiMurder

 

UNITED STATES

GERMANY

JORDAN

GREAT BRITAIN

AUSTRALIA

CANADA

NEW ZEALAND

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Trump to Nominate Retired Air Force General David Stilwell to be Asst Secretary For East Asian & Pacific Affairs

On October 17, the WH announced the President’s intent to nominate Air Force veteran David Stilwell to be the next Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP). The WH released the following brief bio:

David Stilwell of Hawaii, to be an Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State.

Mr. Stilwell is an Air Force veteran with more than 35 years of experience as a pilot, commander, and Korean linguist. He retired in 2015 with the rank of Brigadier General. Currently, Mr. Stilwell is the Director of the China Strategic Focus Group at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Headquarters in Hawaii and an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the East West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Previously, he served as Staff Officer for Joint Staff Plans and Policy (Asia) at the Pentagon and Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Mr. Stillwell earned his B.S. from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and M.A. degrees from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, U.S. Air Command and Staff College, and the U.S. Army War College. He is the recipient of the Department of Defense Superior Service Award and speaks Korean, Chinese, and limited Japanese.

In December 2017, WH nominated career diplomat Susan Thorton to be A/S for EAP (see Career Diplomat Susan A. Thornton to be Asst Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP)). Her nomination became one more casualty of politics, particularly following the departure of former Secretary Tillerson. In July this year, she announced her retirement after a 27-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service (see Former State Department diplomat settles on historic Maine farm).

If confirmed, General Stilwell would succeed Daniel R. Russel who served from 2013 to 2017. Other prior appointees to this position include Winston Lord (1993–1997); Paul D. Wolfowitz (1982–1986); Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke (1977–1981); William Averell Harriman (1961–1963), and David Dean Rusk (1950–1951) to name a few.

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Trump to Nominate Career Diplomat Mary Catherine Phee to be Ambassador to Qatar

On October 17, the WH announced the President’s intent to nominate career diplomat and former ambassador to South Sudan Mary Catherine Phee as the next U.S. Ambassador to Qatar. The WH released the following brief bio:

Mary Catherine Phee of Illinois, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the State of Qatar.

Ms. Phee, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation at the Department of State. Previously, she served as Ambassador to the Republic of South Sudan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Additionally, she served on the National Security Council as Director for Iraq and was the Senior Civilian Representative of the Coalition Provisional Authority to Maysan Province, al-Amarah, Iraq. Ms. Phee earned her B.A. from Indiana University and M.A.L.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. She is the recipient the State Department’s Robert C. Frasure Memorial Award and the Baker-Wilkins Award for Outstanding Deputy Chief of Mission. She also received the Secretary of Defense Meritorious Civilian Service Award and the Order of the British Empire. Ms. Phee speaks Arabic.

If confirmed, this would be Ambassador Phee’s second ambassadorial appointment. She was appointed and confirmed U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan in 2015.  She would succeed career diplomat Dana Shell Smith (1970–) who served as chief of mission to the US Embassy in Doha from 2014-2017.

Since 1960 when AFSA started tracking ambassadorial appointments, the U.S. Ambassador to Qatar appointees have been largely career diplomats. Only two appointees (Joseph Ghougassian (1944–) and Chase Untermeyer (1946–)) were political appointees.

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Pompeo’s Photo-Op in Riyadh: Smile. Say. Bone. Saw. #MilesWithMike

 

AND NOW THIS – THE 70th SECRETARY OF STATE GETS THE ONION TREATMENT – THE GORY VERSION.

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Trump to Nominate PayPal Co-Founder Ken Howery to be Ambassador to Sweden

The WH announced the President’s intent to nominate venture capitalist and PaPal co-founder Kenneth Howery to be his ambassador to Sweden. The WH release a brief bio:

Kenneth A. Howery of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Sweden.

Mr. Howery is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur specializing in creating and funding technology companies. He is a co-founder of and partner at Founders Fund, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm. Prior to Founders Fund, Mr. Howery co-founded PayPal, where he served as the company’s first Chief Financial Officer. Additionally, he is a founding advisor to Kiva.org, a non-profit group that helps develop the next generation of global entrepreneurs. Mr. Howery earned his B.A. in Economics from Stanford University.

His official bio from the Founders Fund is here. You might also want to check out this 2016 piece from Ivy Magazine, Behind the Scenes With PayPal Co-Founder Ken Howery.

If confirmed, Mr. Howery would succeed banker and philanthropist, Azita Raji who served as chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy Stockholm from March 2016 to January 2017. Previous appointees to the U.S. Embassy in Sweden includes lawyer, Mark Brzezinski and business executive, Matthew Barzun.  According to AFSA’s tracker, only three ambassadors appointed as chief of mission to Sweden had been career diplomats; 83.3% of ambassadors appointed to Stockholm (15 in actual number) since 1960 were non-career appointees.

John Kerry: Every Day Is Extra (Book Preview)

Via Amazon:

John Kerry tells the story of his remarkable American life—from son of a diplomat to decorated Vietnam veteran, five-term United States senator, 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, and Secretary of State for four years—a revealing memoir by a witness to some of the most important events of our recent history.

Every Day Is Extra is John Kerry’s candid personal story. A Yale graduate, Kerry enlisted in the US Navy in 1966, and served in Vietnam. He returned home highly decorated but disillusioned, and testified powerfully before Congress as a young veteran opposed to the war.

Kerry served as a prosecutor in Massachusetts, then as lieutenant governor, and was elected to the Senate in 1984, eventually serving five terms. In 2004 he was the Democratic presidential nominee and came within one state—Ohio—of winning. Kerry returned to the Senate, chaired the important Foreign Relations Committee, and succeeded Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in 2013. In that position he tried to find peace in the Middle East; dealt with the Syrian civil war while combatting ISIS; and negotiated the Iran nuclear deal and the Paris climate agreement.

Every Day Is Extra is Kerry’s passionate, insightful, sometimes funny, always moving account of his life. Kerry tells wonderful stories about colleagues Ted Kennedy and John McCain, as well as President Obama and other major figures. He writes movingly of recovering his faith while in the Senate, and deplores the hyper-partisanship that has infected Washington.

Few books convey as convincingly as this one the life of public service like that which John Kerry has lived for fifty years. Every Day Is Extra shows Kerry for the dedicated, witty, and authentic man that he is, and provides forceful testimony for the importance of diplomacy and American leadership to address the increasingly complex challenges of a more globalized world.

 

Senate Confirms @StateDept Officials and Ambassadors Before Leaving Town #MoreStillWaiting

 

The U.S. Senate adjourned on Thursday, October 11, to reconvene on November 13. Before leaving town, it confirmed three assistant secretaries for the State Department (WHA, CSO, H), four ambassadors (all career diplomats), and one ambassador at large. In late September, the Senate also confirmed two nominees for the United Nations.

The list below includes ten other nominees who already had their confirmation hearings and are pending on the Executive Calendar. There is no schedule for a full Senate vote for them at this time, although that could still happen after the Senate reconvenes next month.

Note that there are only 19 work days left for the year in the Senate’s tentative schedule (PDF). There are approximately 60 nominees pending in the Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) and “currently undergoing committee consideration” as of October 14, 2018;  at least three have been nominated in 2017 and renominated in January 2018. Tick-tock.

STATE DEPARTMENT

2018-10-11 PN1708 Department of State | Kimberly Breier, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Western Hemisphere Affairs)

2018-10-11 PN2030 Department of State | Denise Natali, of New Jersey, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Conflict and Stabilization Operations)

2018-10-11 PN2386 Department of State | Mary Elizabeth Taylor, of the District of Columbia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Legislative Affairs).

 

AMBASSADORS

2018-10-11 PN2239 SURINAME | Karen L. Williams, of Missouri, 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 Suriname.

2018-10-11 PN2267 NICARAGUA |Kevin K. Sullivan, of Ohio, 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 Nicaragua.

2018-10-11 PN2278 SOMALIA | Donald Y. Yamamoto, of Washington, 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 Federal Republic of Somalia.

2018-10-11 PN2324  BANGLADESH | Earl Robert Miller, of Michigan, 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 People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

 

AMBASSADOR AT LARGE

2018-10-11 PN2236 Department of State | John Cotton Richmond, of Virginia, to be Director of the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking, with the rank of Ambassador at Large.

 

UNITED NATIONS

2018-09-24 PN1448 United Nations | Jackie Wolcott, of Virginia, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Vienna Office of the United Nations, with the rank of Ambassador.

2018-09-12 PN2019 Department of State | Cherith Norman Chalet, of New Jersey, to be Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations for U.N. Management and Reform, with the rank of Ambassador.

2018-09-12 PN2020 Department of State | Cherith Norman Chalet, of New Jersey, 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 to the United Nations for U.N. Management and Reform.

 

PENDING NOMINATIONS ON THE EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

2018-05-22  PN1280 Joseph E. Macmanus, 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 Colombia.

2018-06-26 PN1768 Kenneth S. George, of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.

2018-06-26 PN1762 Stephen Akard, of Indiana, to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, with the rank of Ambassador.

2018-07-26 PN1638  Joseph Cella, of Michigan, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Fiji, and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Kiribati, the Republic of Nauru, the Kingdom of Tonga, and Tuvalu.

2018-07-31 PN2140 Ellen E. McCarthy, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Intelligence and Research).

2018-08-22 PN2022 Donald R. Tapia, of Arizona, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Jamaica.

2018-09-18 PN2206 Lynda Blanchard, of Alabama, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia.

2018-09-18 PN2237  Daniel N. Rosenblum, of Maryland, a Career Member of the Senior Executive Service, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Uzbekistan

2018-09-18 PN2277 Kip Tom, of Indiana, for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

2018-09-26 PN2235 Francisco Luis Palmieri, of Connecticut, 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 Honduras.

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Foreign Service Labor Relations Board Rules For @StateDept in 2014 MSI Case

AFSA has recently informed its members that the Foreign Service Labor Relations Board (FSLRB) has ruled for the State Department in the 2014 Meritorious Service Increase (MSI) dispute. The ruling affects approximately 270 Foreign Service employees: 

AFSA regrets to inform our members that on September 21, 2018, the Foreign Service Labor Relations Board (FSLRB) granted the Department of State’s exceptions (i.e., appeal) and set aside the Foreign Service Grievance Board’s (FSGB) December 8, 2017 Decision, which had found that the Department violated the procedural precepts by not paying Meritorious Service Increases (MSI) to approximately 277 Foreign Service employees who were recommended but not reached for promotion by the 2014 Selection Boards.  AFSA argued that the Department was required to confer MSIs on all eligible employees (up to the 10% limit set forth in the precepts) who were recommended but not reached for promotion.  The Department argued that it had the unilateral discretion to give MSIs to only 5% of employees ranked but not reached for promotion, since 5% was below the 10% limit.

Rather than give substantial deference, as is normally the case, to the FSGB’s interpretation of the parties’ agreement (i.e., the promotion precepts), two of the three FSLRB members (including the Administration’s appointee to the FSLRB) agreed with the Department’s arguments and found that the FSGB had misinterpreted the precepts.  The third member, Retired Ambassador Herman Cohen, dissented from the majority decision.  When a party seeks to establish that an arbitrator (in this case, the Grievance Board) misinterpreted an agreement, the party must provide that the decision “fails to draw its essence from the agreement.”  This is an extremely high burden to meet.  According to the case law, “great deference” is given to the arbitrator’s interpretation of the agreement “because it is the arbitrator’s construction of the agreement for which the parties have bargained.”   In this case, however, the FSLRB chose not to defer to the Grievance Board, ignoring the “great deference” practice.  Unfortunately, the FSLRB’s decision is not subject to judicial review.

AFSA says that it is “extremely disappointed by this decision.” Its notice to members notes that it prevailed in two earlier cases, the 2013 and 2014 MSI disputes. It also informed members that despite this ruling, it plans to proceed with the 2015 and 2016 MSI cases before the Grievance Board.

Excerpt from FSLRB ruling says:

The Grievance Board stated that it was “indisputably true” that, by its plain terms, the phrase “no more than [10%]” in the agreement means that the Agency may award MSIs to “10% or less” of eligible employees.29 As discussed above, the Grievance Board should have ended its analysis there, with the agreement’s plain wording. Instead, the Grievance Board found that, because the parties had different interpretations, the wording was ambiguous.30 But wording that is clear on its face does not become ambiguous simply because the parties disagree as to its meaning.31 Rather, a contract is ambiguous if it is susceptible to two different and plausible interpretations, each of which is consistent with the contract wording. 32 The interpretation adopted by the Grievance Board – that “no more than [10%]” means the Agency must award MSIs to no less than 10% of eligible employees33 – is not consistent with the plain meaning of the agreement’s wording. Consequently, it is not a plausible interpretation of the agreement.

FLRA Chairman Colleen Duffy Kiko who was confirmed by the Senate in November 2017 serves as the Chairperson of the FSLRB. The two other members of the FSLRB are Stephen Ledford, who previously served as the Director of Labor and Employee Relations at the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) and was sworn on his third term with FSLRB in 2015, and Ambassador (ret.) Herman J. Cohen, a career diplomat and specialist in African and European affairs who was appointed to his first term with the FSLRB in October 2015.

In his dissent, Ambassador Cohen writes:

For five years prior to 2014, the year covered by this case, the promotion precepts, negotiated between management and the union, were always the same: MSIs will be awarded to those recommended for promotion at a maximum of ten percent of those on the list, in rank order. With this practice having been followed year after year, it is quite normal that the union had the right to believe that the number would never be less than ten percent pursuant to the negotiated precepts. Ten percent was not part of a sliding scale. It was an agreed amount.

If management had changed that number from year to year, the situation for 2014 would have been totally different. The union would have demanded the right to negotiate that number.

For this reason, management’s decision to unilaterally change the number of MSIs was contrary to the precepts, despite the ambiguous language. Historical practice said that ten percent of those recommended, but not promoted, would receive MSIs. Secondly, management gave a reason for awarding only five percent MSIs in 2014. Management said it was “exercising its budgetary authority” to make the reduction. In other words, the funds were needed elsewhere.
[…]
In the specific year 2014, it appears that the need to save money by reducing MSIs had no relationship to overall budgetary needs. In short, management was saving money on MSIs, and using that “salary money” to pay for 35 sets of ambassadorial furniture, as one possible example. In 2014, management provided no reason to justify this reduction in this highest priority “salary” by higher priority needs elsewhere. Neither, to my knowledge, was there an overall government-wide freeze in MSIs that year.

The case is U.S. State Department v. AFSA. The FSLRB decision is available to read here or see this link: FS-AR-0007Dec 9-21-18

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