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9/19 SFRC Hearings: Jon Huntsman Jr. (Russia), Wess Mitchell (State/EUR)

Posted: 12:47 am ET

 

The SFRC is holding two hearings today, one for Ambassador Huntsman’s nomination to be the next Ambassador to Russia, and the second, Wess Mitchell’s nomination to be Assistant Secretary of State for the EUR Bureau.

Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Corker

Panel One

The Honorable Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.
Of Utah, To Be Ambassador Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The Russian Federation
His Certificate of Demonstrated Competence per Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4) is available here.

Panel Two

Mr. A. Wess Mitchell
Of Virginia, To Be An Assistant Secretary Of State (European And Eurasian Affairs)

The prepared statements and live video of the hearing will be available here.

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SFRC Hearings: Eric M. Ueland (M), John R. Bass (Afghanistan), Justin Siberell (Bahrain), Steven Dowd (ADB)

Posted: 4:25 am ET

 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is holding confirmation hearings for four State Department nominees today. The first panel has a one sole nominee, Eric M. Euland to be the Under Secretary of State for Management (see Trump to Nominate Top GOP Budget Aide Eric Ueland to be Under Secretary for Management #StateDept). The second panel includes two nominees for ambassador, both career diplomats: John R. Bass for Afghanistan, and Justin Siberell for Bahrain, and J. Steven Dowd, the nominee for The African Development Bank.

Date: Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Time: 09:30 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Corker

The prepared statements and a live video of the hearings will be posted here when available.

Panel One

Mr. Eric M. Ueland
Of Oregon, To Be An Under Secretary Of State (Management)

Panel Two

The Honorable John R. Bass
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 Islamic Republic Of Afghanistan

Mr. Justin Hicks Siberell
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 Kingdom Of Bahrain
Mr. J. Steven Dowd
Of Florida, To Be United States Director Of The African Development Bank For A Term Of Five Years
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SFRC Confirmation Hearings: Ambassador Nominees Michael A. Raynor, Maria E. Brewer, and John P. Desrocher

Posted: 3:12 am ET

 

We missed this one but last Wednesday, the SFRC held a confirmation hearing on the nominations of three career diplomats to be ambassadors to Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and Algeria.

Date: Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Time: 10:00 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Flake

The video is available to watch here.

Nominees

The Honorable Michael Arthur Raynor
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 Federal Democratic Republic Of Ethiopia
Download Testimony

Ms. Maria E. Brewer
Of Indiana, 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 Sierra Leone
Download Testimony

Mr. John P. Desrocher
Of New York, A Career Member Of The Senior Foreign Service, Class Of Minister-Counselor, To Be Ambassado Extraordinary And Plenipotentiary Of The United States Of America To The People’s Democratic Republic Of Algeria
Download Testimony

 

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July 20 SFRC Hearing: Kay Bailey Hutchison to be U.S. Ambassador to NATO

Posted: 1:22 am ET
Updated: 11:48 am PT

 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) is holding a confirmation hearing on the nomination of former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to be the next U.S. Ambassador to NATO.

Date: Thursday, July 20, 2017
Time: 09:30 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Corker

A live video of the hearing and the prepared testimony will be posted here when available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Per Section 712 of the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017, the State Department is required to post the Certificates of Competency online within seven days of transmittal to the Senate.  As of this writing, there is no report available online for Senator Hutchison.

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July 20 SFRC Hearing: Kathleen Troia McFarland to be U.S. Ambassador to Singapore

Posted: 1:14 am ET
Updated: 11:50 am PT

 

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) is holding a confirmation hearing on the nomination of K.T. McFarland to be U.S. Ambassador to Singapore.

Date: Thursday, July 20, 2017
Time: 09:30 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Corker

A live video of the hearing and the prepared testimony will be posted here when available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is the Certificate of Demonstrated Competence report made available online by the State Department per Section 712 of the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017:

SUBJECT: Ambassadorial Nomination: Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST: Republic of Singapore

CANDIDATE: Kathleen Troia McFarland

Kathleen Troia McFarland, a prominent national security analyst, television commentator, political nominee and former senior U.S. Government official, has served as the Deputy National Security Advisor in the National Security Council at the White House since the advent of the Trump Administration. Ms. McFarland has a strong background in foreign policy, government service and political engagement. She was a Candidate for the U.S. Senate in New York in 2006 and for the U.S. House of Representatives, 12th District of New York in 2005. Her demonstrated ability to lead large, complex government institutions, engage effectively in high-level political endeavors, tackle numerous challenges with great intellectual acumen and clearly articulate U.S. government policy make her an excellent candidate for U.S. Ambassador to Singapore.

Previously, Ms. McFarland was a freelance national security commentator on Fox News in New York City and the District of Columbia (2013-2016) and occasionally made public appearances as a guest on other television networks (2007-2013). She served as a staff member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (1991), on the staff of the National Security Council (1970-1976), both in Washington, District of Columbia, and as a Senior Speechwriter and Assistant to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense, Arlington, Virginia (1982-1985). In the interims, she raised her family of five children.

Ms. McFarland earned a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, a B.A./M.A. from the University of Oxford, Oxford, England and a B.A. from George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia. She received a Distinguished Civilian Service Award from the Department of Defense. She is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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July 20 SFRC Hearing: Lewis M. Eisenberg to be U.S. Ambassador to Italy and San Marino

Posted: 1:05 am ET
Updated: 11:49 am PT

 

Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) is holding a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Lewis M. Eisenberg to be U.S. Ambassador to Italy and San Marino.

Date: Thursday, July 20, 2017
Time: 09:30 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Corker

A live video of the hearing and the prepared testimony will be posted here when available.

Below is the Certificate of Demonstrated Competence report made available online by the State Department per Section 712 of the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017:

SUBJECT: Ambassadorial Nomination:  Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST: Italian Republic and the Republic of San Marino

CANDIDATE: Lewis M. Eisenberg

Lewis M. Eisenberg is a prominent American financier and investor. He is a co-founder and managing partner of Ironhill Investments in New York. From 1995-2001 Mr. Eisenberg was the Chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, responsible for overseeing the region’s international airports and seaports, bridges, tunnels and the World Trade Center. He was named a Founding Board Member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, formed after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and he chaired its Victims’ Families and Transportation Advisory Councils (2001-2003). Mr. Eisenberg is an Emeritus Member of Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management Advisory Council and Life Member of the Cornell University Council. Mr. Eisenberg’s demonstrated business acumen and engaged leadership in philanthropy as well as partnering with state and local governments on complex issues, make him well-qualified to serve as Ambassador to the Italian Republic.

Mr. Eisenberg was Senior Advisor for Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (2009-2015), Co-Chairman of Granite Capital International Group, both in New York (1990-2011), and spent 23 years at Goldman Sachs, where he served as General Partner and Co-head of the Equity Division. He has served on numerous boards over four decades, including ITC and Granum Communications LLC, as well as the Boards of St. Barnabas Health Care System, Monmouth Medical Center and New York Service for the Handicapped.

Mr. Eisenberg earned a B.A. from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire in 1964 and an M.B.A. from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York in 1966.  He is the recipient of numerous awards and has been honored by the American Jewish Committee, the National Conference for Community and Justice, Monmouth University, Liberty Science Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newark, New Jersey, and the New Jersey Alliance for Action.

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July 20 SFRC Hearing: Robert W. Johnson IV for United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Posted: 1:01 am ET
Updated: 11:47 am PT

 

Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) is holding a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Robert W. Johnson IV to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Date: Thursday, July 20, 2017
Time: 09:30 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Corker

A live video of the hearing and the prepared testimony will be posted here when available.

Below is the Certificate of Demonstrated Competence report made available online by the State Department per Section 712 of the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017:

SUBJECT: Ambassadorial Nomination: Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

CANDIDATE: Robert Wood Johnson IV

Robert Wood Johnson IV, a prominent businessman, committed civic leader and compassionate philanthropist, has been, for more than thirty years, the Chairman and CEO of The Johnson Company, New York, NY, a private asset management firm. Since 2000, he has also been Chairman and CEO of the New York Jets, an NFL franchise team and the Chairman and CEO of the New York Jets Foundation, New York. Mr. Johnson is also the Founding Chairman of Lupus Research Alliance, the largest non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention, treatment and cure of lupus. Mr. Johnson served on the President’s Export Council (1989-93) and the President’s Commission on White House Fellows (2001-02). His demonstrated commitment to a culture of success and his wide-ranging engagement in business, community and government make him well-qualified to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mr. Johnson serves as Trustee Emeritus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest philanthropic organization devoted exclusively to promoting health and advancing healthcare. He has been a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, New York since 1993 and is serving as a board member of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center. He also lends his time and talents to The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho.

Mr. Johnson earned his B.A. degree in 1972 from the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. He also attended the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration and completed the Smaller Company Management Program in Boston, Massachusetts in 1982.

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July 20 SFRC Hearing: Kelly Craft to be U.S. Ambassador to Canada

Posted: 12:54 am ET
Updated: 11:50 am PT

 

Today, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) is holding a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Kelly Craft to be the U.S. Ambassador to Canada.

Date: Thursday, July 20, 2017
Time: 09:30 AM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Corker

A live video of the hearing and the prepared testimony will be posted here when available.

Below is the Certificate of Demonstrated Competence report made available online by the State Department per Section 712 of the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017:

SUBJECT: Ambassadorial Nomination: Certificate of Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST: Canada

CANDIDATE: Kelly Craft

Kelly Craft is a leader in civic engagement in Kentucky and also a successful businesswoman who is actively engaged in support of the Republican Party at the state and national levels. While raising two children, Mrs. Craft not only ran her own marketing and management consulting firm, Kelly G. Knight LLC, but also found the time to make community engagement a focus of her personal endeavors. She has served in leadership roles with numerous civic organizations, including the Salvation Army of Lexington and the Center for Rural Development, a nonprofit dedicated to economic development in rural Kentucky. Mrs. Craft also has a deep commitment to improving education, serving on the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees and co-founding the Morehead State University Craft Academy for Excellence in Science and Mathematics. Her demonstrated leadership skills in civic matters, her management experience and business acumen, and her deep understanding of critical social and political issues, make Mrs. Craft well qualified to serve as the United States Ambassador to Canada.

Mrs. Craft has previously served in a variety of roles in the political context, including as an Executive Committee Member of the Republican Governors Association (2015-Present) and as the Kentucky Finance Chair (2005-Present) and National Finance Vice Chair (2015-2016) of the Republican National Committee. In 2007, under President George W. Bush, Mrs. Craft also served in a significant public policy position as the U.S. alternate delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. In a civic engagement capacity, she has also been a Member of the Board for the Kentucky Arts Council, the YMCA of Central Kentucky, and the United Way of the Bluegrass.

Mrs. Craft received her B.A. from the University of Kentucky. She is being awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Morehead State University in May 2017.

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July 19 SFRC Hearing: Krishna R. Urs to be U.S. Ambassador to Peru

Posted: 12:40 am ET

 

Yesterday, the SFRC held a confirmation hearing for three nominees.  The nomination of career diplomat Krishna R. Urs to be the U.S. Ambassador to Peru was a late addition to the panel, so this is a catch-up post.

Date: Wednesday, July 19, 2017
Time: 02:00 PM
Location: SD-419
Presiding: Senator Rubio

The live video and the prepared testimony is available here.

Below is the report submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

SUBJECT:  Ambassadorial Nomination:  Certificate o Demonstrated Competence — Foreign Service Act, Section 304(a)(4)

POST: Republic of Peru

CANDIDATE:  Krishna Raj Urs

Krishna Urs, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, is the Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy, Madrid, Spain (2017) where he was also the Deputy Chief of Mission (2014-2017).  In his three decades of service in the State Department Mr. Urs has specialized in economic issues and has extensive policy experience in the Andean region of South America.  He also has considerable knowledge of the workings of the U.S. government and served as the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs (2013-2014) and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Transportation Affairs (2010-2013).   As a three- time Deputy Chief of Mission, and as Charge d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy, La Paz, Bolivia (2008).  Mr. Urs honed his well-regarded skills as a leader of diverse interagency teams, as a manager of complex programs, and as a mentor and role model. These skills, coupled with his experience as a policy maker, his considerable expertise on economic and trade issues, and his impressive substantive knowledge of Peru and of the Andean region make him an excellent candidate for U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Peru.

Among his overseas assignments, Mr. Urs served as Deputy Chief of Mission, U.S. Embassy La Paz, Bolivia (2006-2009,  Acting Deputy Chief of Mission and Counselor for Economic and Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (2000-2003) and Counselor for Economic Affairs, U.S. Embassy, Lima Peru.  In the State Department in Washington, D.C., Mr. Urs’ positions included assignments as Director of the Office of Aviation Negotiations, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (2009-2010), and Director of the Office of Economic Policy and Summit Coordination, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs (2003-2006).

Mr. Urs earned a M.S. from the University of Texas in 1984 and a B.S. from Georgetown University in 1980.  He has been the recipient of thirteen notable senior State Department awards, including a Presidential Meritorious Service Award.  Mr. Urs speaks fluent Spanish as well as some Hindi and Telegu.

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Sen. Menendez Asks the Consular Affairs Nominee the Questions Y’All Wanna Ask

Posted: 1:26 pm PT

 

The Trump nominee to be Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday (see July 18 SFRC Hearing: Carl Risch to be Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs). There were four nominees during the hour and a half hearing chaired by Senator Ron Johnson, so basically 22.5 minutes for each nominee although the CT and CA nominees got most of the more substantial questions.

(click image to see the video)

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) reminded Mr. Risch of his old congressional testimony advocating for the transfer of visa function to DHS in 2002 (see Ex-FSO Who Once Advocated Moving Visas to DHS May be the Next Asst Secretary For Consular Affairs). The exchange between Menendez and Risch starts at 00:45:50 via C-SPAN video here.

Senator Menendez started by congratulating all the nominees then quoted from Mr. Risch’s old testimony: “Congratulations to all of you. Mr. Risch in 2007 you appeared before the House Subcommittee on Government Reform. In a hearing, you said during my tenure as unit chief I adjudicated approximately 25,000 visa applications. I resigned in May of 2002 even though I received top evaluation and a challenging assignment. While I longed to return to my private practice, I was discouraged by the State Department’s lack of dedication to the enforcement of laws. I took my job very seriously. The State Department did not.”

Senator Menendez then asked: “Do you believe the State Department isn’t  committed to rule of law and national security of the United States?”

Mr. Risch’s response:

“Thank you senator, for the question and for the opportunity to address that testimony. The testimony was in 2002, not in 2007. It was 15 years ago that that testimony took place. It was during the time that the Department of Homeland Security was just being stood up. I believe a lot has changed at the State Department in 15 years. I’m enthusiastic about the future the way the bureau will be fulfilling its function with interagency cooperation, continuous vetting.”

Senator Menendez did not let him off the hook and asked again, “Do you believe the State Department is committed to the rule of law and the national security of the United States?”

Mr. Risch responded, Currently senator, I absolutely do.”

The NJ senator started talking about refugee and migration issues then asked Mr. Risch, “So do you believe that the Department of Homeland Security, which is notoriously bloated with a whole host of dysfunctional components, should be responsible still to have the visa, the very essence of the department you’re being nominated to, to be transferred to the Department of Homeland Security?”

Mr. Risch’s response:

“Well, 15 years ago, senator, I stand behind my testimony. It was a completely different time. And there were a lot of talk about consolidating different things into the Department of Homeland Security. Currently, I watched the Deputy Secretary testify yesterday that it’s currently not the intent of the Department of State —”

This is in reference to Deputy Secretary Sullivan’s testimony from Monday, at the same panel, about State not having an intention to transfer the consular function to DHS.  Senator Menendez cut him off saying “I’m not asking what their intent, I’m asking your view. You’re nominated for this position.”

This is Mr. Risch’s response:

“My view is I would … I follow the leadership of Department of State if confirmed. But as of today, I intend to lead the Bureau of Consular Affairs as it is currently formed. I believe that I will be, if confirmed a strong leader of all functions of the consular bureau including the visa function.” 

 

 

 

There’s something about Mr. Risch’s response that’s not very comforting to our ears. You, too? Maybe it’s the use of the word “currently” as “at the present time,” as in “now.” Maybe, that’s just his favorite word. Maybe it indicates that he does not have a solid view about a U.S. Government agency’s commitment to the rule of law and national security of this country.

To the question about his belief whether the State Department is committed to the rule of law and national security of the United States, Mr. Risch responded with “I absolutely do,” but he prefaced that response with “currently.” He used the same word when talking about the intent of the State Department, and in describing the bureau he is nominated to lead.

The use of the word “currently” implies that things might change. Does he know something we don’t? What he believes now, may not be what he believes next month, or next year. If the White House decides to move the visa function to DHS, and the State Department’s intent changes, Mr. Risch will “follow the leadership” at State. Then he will be back in the Senate to explain, “Currently, the State Department believe it is best to …”

For what it’s worth, we asked somebody who previously worked with Mr. Risch at an overseas post and the one feedback we got though brief was complimentary.

Mr. Risch’s prepared testimony is available here (pdf).

If confirmed, Mr. Risch would succeed career diplomat Michele Thoren Bond who served as Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs from 2015-2017.

Below is a brief summary of the position and the previous appointees to this office via history.state.gov:

Assistant Secretaries of State for Consular Affairs

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (Jun 27, 1952; P.L. 82-414; 66 Stat. 174) established within the Department of State a Bureau of Security and Consular Affairs, headed by an Administrator with rank equal to that of an Assistant Secretary. From Mar 1 to Dec 30, 1954, the Bureau was renamed “Inspection, Security, and Consular Affairs.” From 1953 to 1962, the Secretary of State designated incumbents to this position. The Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962 (Jun 28, 1962; P.L. 87-510; 76 Stat. 123) made the Administrator a Presidential appointee subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. In 1962, the Department transferred the security function to the Deputy Under Secretary for Administration, but the title remained unchanged until 1977, when the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1978 (Aug 17, 1977; P.L. 95-105; 91 Stat. 847) changed the Administrator’s title to “Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs.” This title has been given in full in all subsequent commissions to this office.

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