@StateDept Nominations Pending at the SFRC as of 4/12

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The following State Department nominations are currently pending at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
2021-02-04 PN114 United States Agency for International Development | Samantha Power, of Massachusetts, to be Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.
Confirmation hearing on 3/23/21. Nomination expected to be taken up during the Business Meeting on 4/15/21. 
2021-03-09 PN241 Department of State | Uzra Zeya, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights).
SFRC Confirmation Hearing scheduled for April 15, time TBD
2021-02-13 PN120 Department of State | Victoria Nuland, of Virginia, to be an Under Secretary of State (Political Affairs).
SFRC Confirmation Hearing scheduled for April 15, time TBD

2021-04-12 PN268 Department of State | Brian A. Nichols, of Rhode Island, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Career Minister, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Western Hemisphere Affairs).
2021-03-17 PN253 Department of State | Jose W. Fernandez, of New York, to be an Under Secretary of State (Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment).
2021-03-17 PN252 European Bank for Reconstruction and Development | Jose W. Fernandez, of New York, to be United States Alternate Governor of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
2021-03-17 PN251 International Bank for Reconstruction and Development | Jose W. Fernandez, of New York, to be United States Alternate Governor of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a term of five years; United States Alternate Governor of the Inter-American Development Bank for a term of five years
2021-03-15 PN242 Department of State | Bonnie D. Jenkins, of New York, to be Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.

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@StateDept Updated Assignment Restrictions Regs in 2020, Also Where’s the Preclusion Data?

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Last week, Politico published a piece about hundreds of people of color at the State Department handed “assignment restrictions” due to concerns over split loyalties or being susceptible to foreign influence. See Foreigners in their own country: Asian Americans at State Department confront discrimination. In 2017, The Foreign Service Journal published In Pursuit of Transparency in Assignment Restriction Policies by FSOs Christina T. Le and Thomas T. Wong who at that time were the current and past presidents of the Asian American Foreign Affairs Association (AAFAA). Excerpt below:

Employees’ concerns regarding the assignment restrictions process were plentiful: it was unfair, lacked transparency and was based on ethnic origin or family heritage. Our advocacy to the State Department on the issue began in 2009 and continued in earnest through 2016.

The case was framed by input from countless numbers of employees who came to us expressing real frustration, disillusionment and anger over the lack of transparency and accountability in the process. In some cases, the department had prioritized hiring these officers because of their language skills, only to turn around and preclude them from using those valued language skills overseas.

While assignment restrictions affect many State department employees of different backgrounds, we accumulated substantial anecdotal evidence that it has disproportionately affected employees of AAPI descent. Our data suggested assignment restrictions were levied with race as a factor, with disregard for mitigating circumstances and even based on incorrect facts.

According to the authors, the efforts to confront these issues went back many years: “Mariju Bofill first raised the issue with the Secretary of State in 2009, after consultations with the department’s legal advisor, and continued to raise it during the following three years. Cecilia Choi took the baton in 2012, working with the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to try to come to a fair solution. In 2013, The Washington Post featured an article on the subject, “At the State Department, Diversity Can Count Against You,” highlighting the perspectives of several Foreign Service officers.”
In May 2017, AFSA issued guidance on new provisions governing assignment limitations as negotiated with the State Department; these were reportedly implemented on October 21, 2017 and can be found in 12 FAM 233.5.  The latest update were done on June  24, 2020:

Per FAM, assignment restrictions are conditions placed on a security clearance.  They are used to prevent potential targeting and harassment by foreign intelligence services as well as to lessen foreign influence and/or foreign preference security concerns; for example, if an employee and/or his or her close family members maintain citizenship or dual citizenship with that country or have substantial financial interests or foreign contacts there.  Foreign influence and preference are two of the U.S. Government’s Adjudicative Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Access to Classified Information.

Assignment restrictions may be determined when the initial clearance determination is made, during periodic reinvestigation, or when an individual’s personal situation changes; i.e., marriage, cohabitation, etc. (see 12 FAM 270).  An individual may be restricted from permanent assignment to a particular country or countries, or in some cases, a desk and/or program where that country or countries are the primary focus.  Desks or other positions may present vulnerabilities for targeting when there is frequent official contact with foreign individuals.  Individuals with an assignment restriction to a country may not serve temporary duty (TDY) in that country for more than a total of 60 days during any 365 day period.

The 2020 FAM update allows for a review within 30 days of receiving the assignment restrictions at an employee’s request, on exceptional circumstances the employee/applicant may also request an additional 15 days review, and there us a review on the assignment restrictions by DS/SI/PSS each time an individual’s continued eligibility for access to classified information is re-adjudicated, typically every five years.
The thing that’s clear in the regs is that the initial assignment restriction is conducted by Diplomatic Security. The  reviewer is also Diplomatic Security. After that review, the decision by DS/DSS becomes final. There is no appeal authority above Diplomatic Security. The State Department’s personnel chief, yes, the DGHR said in a congressional hearing that she “does not know enough about the process to answer the question” (see video below).
The updated regs also do not indicate who tracks, and keep the data about these assignment restrictions. The report on Politico points out that the State Department is required by law to provide to Congress “the number and nature of assignment restrictions and preclusions for the previous three years”. This was part of the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017 dated December 16, 2016 (see 22 USC 2734c: Employee assignment restrictions).  Which means Tillerson in 2017 or Pompeo in 2018 would have been required to submit preclusion data to Congress dating back at least three years.  And yet, the Politico report said that a State Department spokesperson was unable to say how many diplomats across the department are currently subject to restrictions.
Well, now.  So either the State Department ignored a congressional reporting requirement or the information is available but in a lock box?  Who wants to share?
Congressional representatives like Andy Kim of NJ who previously worked for the State Department has publicly voiced a demand that “we fix this problem.”

Below is the top official in charged of personnel including assignments at the State Department told by the congressman from California to “Maybe you might want to find more about this process since you’re Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Global Talent and this is affecting your State Department employees … “

 


 

 

Samantha Power Before SFRC on 3/23, USAID Announces 19 New Biden-Harris Appointees

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On Tuesday, March 23, former USUN Ambassador Samantha Power will have her confirmation hearing as President Biden’s nominee to be the next Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). A live video of the hearing will be available to watch here.  
Meanwhile, on March 15, 2021, USAID announced almost two dozens new Biden-Harris appointees at the agency:
Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) welcomes Gideon Maltz as the Agency’s Chief of Staff. Gideon joins the growing body of Biden-Harris appointees that continue to build out the Agency with wide-ranging expertise. They look forward to contributing to the world’s premier development agency as part of a vibrant, dedicated workforce, representing the best of the American people.
Together, the team, celebrating 60 years of successes, will build the USAID of tomorrow, leading and always innovating international development and humanitarian efforts to save lives, reduce poverty and strengthen democracy.
Senior Staff
      • Travis Adkins, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Africa
      • Jeremy Bernton, Executive Secretary, Office of the Executive Secretariat
      • Natasha Bilimoria, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Global Health
      • Nikole Burroughs, Deputy Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning
      • Sarah Charles Phillips, Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance
      • Gabi Chojkier, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Public Affairs, Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs
      • Megan Doherty, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Middle East
      • Mileydi Guilarte, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean
      • Diala Jadallah-Redding, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Legislative Affairs, Bureau for Legislative and Public Affairs
      • Anjali Kaur, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Bureau for Asia
      • Jeremy Konyndyk, Executive Director for COVID-19, Office of the Administrator
      • Zeppa Kreager, White House Liaison
      • Mike Michener, Deputy Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Resilience and Food Security
      • Raj Panjabi, President’s Malaria Initiative Coordinator, Bureau for Global Health
      • Neilesh Shelat, Deputy Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance
      • Michele Sumilas, Assistant to the Administrator, Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning
      • Margaret Taylor, General Counsel
      • Rebecca Wexler, Special Advisor, Office of the Administrator
Click on the hyperlinks to view their bios.
With the exception of Jeremy Konyndyk who previously served in the Obama Administration from 2013-2017 as the director of USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), all are new political appointees to USAID; some previously worked on the Hill, NGOs, consulting firms, or  think tanks.
Also Rebecca Wexler who is the new Special Advisor to the Office of the Administrator previously served as Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. when Samantha Power was at USUN.
We’re still looking for the career appointees but where are they hiding them? We haven’t found them yet!

 

 

 

State/DMR Nominee Brian P. McKeon: My first priority, if confirmed …

Excerpt from Statement of Brian P. McKeon Nominee to be Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Committee on Foreign Relations March 3, 2021:
My first priority, if confirmed, is to help the Department of State build back better to meet the diplomatic and security challenges of the 21st century. That starts with investing in its greatest asset – the over 75,000 public servants who work in Washington, at over 270 posts around the world, and in dozens of facilities around the United States. Our diplomats are on the front lines of America’s security and interests. They deserve our support and efforts to strengthen their ranks. We must ensure that we recruit, develop and retain a diverse and professional workforce that is prepared and empowered to advance not only our traditional diplomatic interests, but also to address the pressing challenges of this era, such as climate change, global health security, irregular migration, advanced technology, increased economic competitiveness, threats to democratic governance, and, not least, long-term strategic competition with China.
Let me say a few words in particular about diversity, which will be a top priority for all of the senior leadership. Stated simply, the Department of State cannot fully represent America unless its workforce is fully representative of America. We must make real gains in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion through concrete actions to dismantle structural barriers at the Department. Meaningful change will require sustained focus on three key areas: talent management, transparency, and accountability. Secretary Blinken has made clear he will have such a focus, and so will I, if confirmed. As an initial action, the Secretary has followed through 3 on his commitment to this committee by creating a Chief Diversity and Inclusion Office, reporting directly to him.
If confirmed, I also intend to devote considerable attention to ensuring that we are aligning our resources with our policy priorities – both investments in our operations and in State and USAID foreign assistance programs – and that we are good stewards of taxpayer dollars.
For the last several years, the Congress has, on a bipartisan basis, protected the international affairs budget from requested cuts, which has thankfully provided a solid foundation on which to build as we undertake the collective work to revitalize the Department of State. If confirmed, I look forward to working with you to ensure the Department has the resources and authorities it needs to meet the many challenges we face. I am committed to ensuring the effective management of the resources made available to us, but we will need your help to make the necessary investments in our workforce, in information technology, in building and maintaining safe and secure embassies, and in our foreign assistance programs that seek to advance our national interests.


 

 

State/D Nominee Wendy Sherman: Moving forward on the challenges our country faces will not be easy …

 

Excerpt from Statement of Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman, Nominee to be Deputy Secretary of State Senate, Foreign Relations Committee, March 3, 2021:
To compete and win the strategic competition with China, we have to invest in America and confront and challenge Beijing where we must, including on human rights and democratic values. We will act firmly in defense of our national interests in response to actions by Russia that harm us or our allies. With respect to Iran, as the lead of the U.S. negotiating team for the JCPOA, I remain clear-eyed about the threat that Iran poses to our interests and those of our allies. I am ready to address your questions about the JCPOA, but would note that 2021 is not 2015 when the deal was agreed, nor 2016 when it was implemented. The facts on the ground have changed, the geopolitics of the region have changed, and the way forward must similarly change.
Moving forward on the challenges our country faces will not be easy, but I firmly believe in the capacity of the United States to meet these challenges through renewed global leadership and the exceptionally talented staff of the State Department. During my prior service, I experienced the unparalleled professionalism of the State Department’s civil servants, foreign service officers, locally engaged staff, and contractors. I also saw the personal sacrifices and contributions their families make for our nation. I am grateful that, if confirmed, I will again have the opportunity to benefit from the expertise and dedication of all of the women and men who advance American interests every day in all of the 180 countries with which we have diplomatic relations.


 

 

Confirmation Hearing: Secretary of State Nominee Antony Blinken (Video/Text)

 

On January 19, Antony Blinken, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee to be the 71st Secretary of State appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his confirmation hearing.

Excerpt from his prepared statement (PDF):

If confirmed, three priorities will guide my time as Secretary. 

First, I will work with you to reinvigorate the Department by investing in its greatest asset: the foreign service officers, civil servants, and locally employed staff who animate American diplomacy around the world.

I know from firsthand experience their passion, energy, and courage. Often far from home and away from loved ones, sometimes in dangerous conditions exacerbated by the global pandemic – they deserve our full support. If I am confirmed as Secretary, they will have it.

I am committed to advancing our security and prosperity by building a diplomatic corps that fully represents America in all its talent and diversity. Recruiting, retaining, and promoting officers with the skills to contend with 21st Century challenges and who look like the country we represent. Sparing no effort to ensure their safety and well-being. Demanding accountability – starting with the Secretary – for building a more diverse, inclusive and non-partisan workplace.

Second, working across government and with partners around the world, we will revitalize American diplomacy to take on the most pressing challenges of our time.

We’ll show up again, day-in, day-out whenever and wherever the safety and well-being of Americans is at stake. We’ll engage the world not as it was, but as it is. A world of rising nationalism, receding democracy, growing rivalry with China, Russia, and other authoritarian states, mounting threats to a stable and open international system, and a technological revolution that is reshaping every aspect of our lives, especially in cyberspace.

For all that has changed, some things remain constant.

American leadership still matters.

The reality is that the world doesn’t organize itself. When we’re not engaged, when we don’t lead, then one of two things happen: either some other country tries to take our place, but probably not in a way that advances our interests or values. Or no one does, and then you get chaos. Either way, that does not serve the American people

Humility and confidence should be the flip sides of America’s leadership coin.

Humility because we have a great deal of work to do at home to enhance our standing abroad. And humility because most of the world’s problems are not about us, even as they affect us. Not one of the big challenges we face can be met by one country acting alone – even one as powerful as the U.S.

But we’ll also act with confidence that America at its best still has a greater ability than any country on earth to mobilize others for the greater good.

Guided by those principles, we can overcome the COVID crisis – the greatest shared challenge since World War II.

We can outcompete China – and remind the world that a government of the people, by the people, can deliver for its people.

We can take on the existential threat posed by climate change.

We can revitalize our core alliances – force multipliers of our influence around the world. Together, we are far better positioned to counter threats posed by Russia, Iran, and North Korea and to stand up for democracy and human rights.

And in everything we do around the world, we can and we must ensure that our foreign policy delivers for American working families here at home.

Let me conclude with a word about this institution, whose resilience and determination was on full display in the aftermath of senseless and searing violence in these halls. Both the President-elect and I believe we must restore Congress’s traditional role as a partner in our foreign policy making.

In recent years, across administrations of both parties, Congress’s voice in foreign policy has been diluted and diminished.

That doesn’t make the executive branch stronger – it makes our country weaker.

President-elect Biden believes – and I share his conviction – that no foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. You are the representatives of the American people. You provide that advice and consent. We can only tackle the most urgent problems our country faces if we work together, and I am dedicated to doing that.

If confirmed, I will work as a partner to each of you on behalf of all Americans.

 


 

 

Nominee For Peru Ambassadorship Lisa Kenna Gets a Late Thunderbolt

 

Via Politico:
Lisa Kenna, Pompeo’s executive secretary — a gatekeeper of sorts to his office — told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that she was unaware of the substance of Giuliani’s outreach at the time, but now knows it was an effort to discredit Yovanovitch. Giuliani made calls and delivered documents to Pompeo that came from Ukrainian figures viewed as corrupt by the State Department.
“At the time, I did not know what the documents were about. It’s deeply disturbing,” said Kenna, who is being vetted by the committee for the ambassadorship to Peru.
Ms. Kenna’s prepared testimony for the SFRC is available to read here.

Open Hearings Week #2: Williams, Vindman, Volker, Morrison, Sondland, Cooper, Hale, Hill, Holmes

 

Related posts: Impeachment Inquiry: Transcripts of Depositions Released (Updated 11/18/19)Impeachment Open Hearings Week #1: William Taylor, George Kent, Marie Yovanovitch

Thursday, November 21

  • WH/NSC: Fiona Hill, Fiona Hill, Former Senior Director for Europe and Russia
  • State/FSO David Holmes, Political Counselor, US Embassy Kyiv, Ukraine

Continue reading

Impeachment Open Hearings Week #1: William Taylor, George Kent, Marie Yovanovitch

Updated: Nov 13, 2019
Updated: Nov 15, 2019

The House Intelligence Committee  Chairman Adam Schiff announced the first open hearings this week:

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 10:00 am ET

WHERE: Longworth House Office Building, Room 110
WATCH: Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LrL2q91fnnQ&feature=youtu.be
Witnesses:
  • Ambassador William Taylor
    Chargé D’affaires, US Embassy Kyiv, Ukraine
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent
    Deputy Assistant Secretary in the European and Eurasian Bureau at the U.S. Department of State.

Friday, November 15, 2019 9:00am ET

Ambassador Marie “Masha” Yovanovitch
US Ambassador to Ukraine (2016-May 2019)
WHERE: Longworth House Office Building, Room 1100
WATCH: Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPoc_sj1hgQ

 

D/Secretary John Sullivan on the Effort to Smear Former US Amb to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch

On October 30, 2019, Deputy Secretary John Sullivan appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for his confirmation hearing to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation. His 2-page Opening Statement is available to read here. Given his prior confirmation, and what appears to be bipartisan support in the Senate (plus GOP got the votes), it is likely that he will sail through this confirmation process and may be in Moscow by Thanksgiving Day.