U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), cofounders of the bipartisan Foreign Service Caucus, have introduced the Foreign Service Families Act (S.1293), a bill to expand employment opportunities for spouses of Foreign Service officers.
Senator Van Hollen’s press statement notes that “This legislation will help ensure that the State Department is able to attract and retain a world-class diplomatic corps by providing expanded career options and services to eligible family members. For many of these family members, the process of finding employment isn’t easy — frequent moves, language barriers, and limited options pose significant challenges. This legislation will address that issue so our Foreign Service can continue to serve the best interests of Americans at home and abroad.”
This Foreign Service Day, @SenDanSullivan and I introduced the Foreign Service Families Act—to expand job opportunities for spouses and support the men and women who serve our country around the world. Growing up in a Foreign Service family, I know how critical this is. pic.twitter.com/6K0l50sgAV
— Chris Van Hollen (@ChrisVanHollen) May 3, 2019
According to Senator Van Hollen’s press statement, The Foreign Service Families Act would provide authority to the State Department to offer the same services to Foreign Service family members overseas that the Defense Department is permitted to provide to military families. This includes:
Additionally the legislation:
The bill has been “read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.” We’ve searched for the text but have not yet been able to locate it. According to congress.gov, as of 05/10/2019 text has not been received for S.1293: “Bills are generally sent to the Library of Congress from GPO, the Government Publishing Office, a day or two after they are introduced on the floor of the House or Senate. Delays can occur when there are a large number of bills to prepare or when a very large bill has to be printed.”
Govtrack notes that the United States Congress considers about 5,000 bills and resolutions each year, but of those only about 7% will become law. All bills not enacted by the end of the session on Jan 3, 2021 die, and Congress will start over.
The U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich has reportedly been recalled and now expected to depart post on or about May 20. This development followed a persistent campaign for her removal among conservative media outlets in the United States as well as allegations by Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Lutsenko concerning a do not prosecute list.
The State Department reportedly told RFE/RL on May 6, that Ambassador Yovanovitch “is concluding her 3-year diplomatic assignment in Kyiv in 2019 as planned.” And that “her confirmed departure date in May aligns with the presidential transition in Ukraine,” which elected a new president in April.
While that may well be true – she was confirmed in 2016, a 3-year tour is a typical assignment; the new Ukraine president takes office on June 3rd — it is hard to ignore the louder voices calling for the ambassador’s removal from post for political reasons. It doesn’t help that there is no Senate confirmed EUR Assistant Secretary or that the Secretary of State did not see it fit to come forward to defend his top representative in a priority country in Europe.
Ambassador Yovanovich is a career diplomat and a Senate-confirmed Ambassador representing the United States in Ukraine. She previously served as Ambassador to the Republic of Armenia (2008-2011) under President Obama and to the Kyrgyz Republic (2005-2008) under President George W. Bush. We’ve seen people calling career diplomats “holdovers”. If they were political appointees, they would be called “holdovers” or “burrowers,” but they are career public servants; that term does not apply to them. If some folks insists on calling them “holdovers,” then the least that these folks can do is to accurately enumerate all the public servants’ prior presidential appointments, some going back 30 years at the start of their careers in the diplomatic service.
Perhaps it is helpful to point out that as career appointees, ambassadors like Ambassador Yovanovich do not go freelancing nor do they go rogue; they do not make their own policy concerning their host country. They typically get their marching orders from their home bureau, in this case, the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR) at the State Department, under the oversight of the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, who report to the Secretary of State. And they follow those orders. Even if they disagree with those orders or the administration’s policies. Career diplomats who do not follow their instructions do not have lengthy careers in the diplomatic service.
After all that, if the United States is taking the word of a foreign official over our own ambassador, it’s open season for our career diplomats. Will the “you want a U.S. ambassador kicked out from a specific country go on teevee ” removal campaign going to become a thing now? Will the Secretary of Swagger steps up?
"Ambassador Yovanovitch is a dedicated public servant and a diplomat of the highest caliber who has represented the United States under both Republican and Democratic administrations."
Read the full statement below. https://t.co/cwRUupdz79
— House Foreign Affairs Committee (@HouseForeign) May 7, 2019
Agreed. Amb Yovanovitch is one of our best. SecState should be protecting his people from this kind of nonsense. https://t.co/q710rG9s0h
— Brian P. McKeon (@bpmckeon64) May 7, 2019
Our story on US Ambassador to Ukraine Yovanovitch’s imminent departure: https://t.co/KTuD66iczn
(Again, correcting below tweet, it’s 2016, not 2018.) https://t.co/WuBqQfTIoL
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) May 6, 2019
U.S. State Department denies claim by Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Yuriy Lutsenko that the U.S. Ambassador to #Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, gave him "a list of people whom we should not prosecute." https://t.co/Do4TDJ67ay pic.twitter.com/gQ5xJri4MQ
— Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (@RFERL) March 23, 2019
US ambassador to Ukraine, a career diplomat, is being brought home two months early with no replacement in sight after attacks by Donald Trump Jr. and conservative media outlets. @RobbieGramer @ak_mack https://t.co/4KhcXVeztM
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) May 7, 2019
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) May 7, 2019
We need more @RichardGrenell’s and less of these jokers as ambassadors.
Calls Grow To Remove Obama's U.S. Ambassador To Ukraine https://t.co/0jgzp1ZqmU
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 24, 2019
Posted: 4:28 am EST
Updated: 5:01 am EST
It looks like US Mission Iraq is in for another big round of staff reduction. Sources indicate that staff cuts could be as much as a third. People reportedly are being told to return home. Like when? Now? Like there’s no glide path here … just pack up and go home now?
Update: We just learned that assigned personnel were notified last week to find other jobs.
If folks time this really well, Secretary Pompeo can then go talk to Congress about cost savings by the time he is up there in May for the State Department Budget Request for FY2020.
So we want to take a look at staffing numbers. We have two publicly available staffing numbers to work with, both a bit outdated so our numbers are speculation at this time. One is from 2013 when Embassy Iraq told State/OIG that it planned to reduce staffing from 11,500 in January 2013 to 5,500 in January 2014. That’s over five years ago, and we don’t know if US Mission Iraq was successful with this reduction plan. Let’s say post was successful, and staffing was down to 5,500 in early 2014. A reduction by a third means moving out about 1,800 people out of Iraq, which presumably includes not just direct-hire employees but also contractors.
Our second staffing number is from a January 2016 solicitation posted on FedBiz for Medical Service Support Iraq II which indicates the following: “The BDSC Large Diplomatic Support Hospital not only provides primary care to personnel at BDSC, but also may serve as the secondary and trauma care center for the patient population within U.S. Mission Iraq (4300 – 5800 personnel).”
If we take the lower end of that bracket at 4300, a reduction by a third means moving out approximately 1400 people out of Iraq and and back to domestic assignments/regular postings for direct-hire employees. Staff reduction could also means less protective security requirements, reduction in number of contractors providing various support functions, as wells as a reduction in the number of hospitals, air flights, food operations and logistics, laundry services, warehouse operation, vehicle maintenance services, and a long host of other support services.
Another way we’re looking at this is to go back to a 2010 State/OIG report that estimated a minimum of 15 and possibly up to 60 security and life support staff to support one substantive direct-hire position. For instance, if there are some 350 direct-hire employees and you slash a third of that staff, the corresponding security and life support staff could also be reduced by a third, which means a reduction of about 1700 security and life support staff (using the minimum 1:15 support ratio).
We do not know at this time how many direct-hire personnel will actually be affected by these cuts, or how many assignments — onward assignments, linked assignments, or how many contractors — will be impacted. We will update if/when we know more. There’s also a nagging question in our noggin — after Iraq, where else?
Maybe time to do a trip down the blog’s memory lane. Back in 2010, we posted US Embassy Baghdad: The “civilianization” of the U.S. presence in Iraq and its peskiest details. At that time, State/OIG notes:
The number of security and life support personnel required to maintain this limited substantive staff is huge: 82 management, 2,008 security, 157 aviation, and 1,085 life support personnel. In other words, depending on the definition of support staff, it takes a minimum of 15 and possibly up to 60 security and life support staff to support one substantive direct-hire position. To put this into perspective, a quick calculation of similar support ratios at three major embassies (Beijing, Cairo, and New Delhi) shows an average of four substantive officers to every three support staff (4:3) in contrast to 1:15 to 1:60 in Iraq.
The following year, the US Embassy in Baghdad made news on its planned staffing expansion from 8,000 to 17,000 (see US Embassy Iraq: From a staff of 8,000 to 17,000?).
In 2011, we did US Mission Iraq: Not DOD’s Giganotosaurus Footprint, But a Super Embassaurus For Real. We had a deep sense of humor then. That same year, we saw the opening of a new post in Iraq (see Newest US Consulate General Opens in Basrah, Iraq)
In 2012, US Mission Iraq made news again as news on a reduction in staffing by as much as as half was splashed on the headlines (see US Embassy Iraq Staffing: To Slash or Not to Slash, That is the Question). There was also BLISS (US Mission Iraq: Get ready for BLISS… no, not perfect happiness — just Baghdad Life Support Services.
In 2013, we did a Twelve Things You Might Not Know About the Largest Embassy in the World. That same year, there were various embassy closures (see Intel Signs of Al Qaeda Plot in the Making: U.S. Embassy Closures — Sunday, August 4.
In 2013, the State Department told the State/OIG: “The Embassy is taking steps to reduce the mission’s headcount from over 11,500 in January 2013 to 5,500 by January 2014.
The year 2014 saw the partial temporary relocation of embassy staff to Basra, Erbil, and Amman, Jordan (U.S. Relocates More Baghdad/Erbil Staff to Basrah and Amman (Jordan), Updates Aug. 8 Travel Warning (2014); US Mission Iraq: Now on Partial “Temporary Relocation” To Basra, Erbil & Amman (Jordan)
In spring 2015, a bomb exploded outside the US Consulate in Erbil, an attack claimed by ISIS (see Bomb Explodes Outside US Consulate Erbil in Northern Iraq, ISIS Claims Attack (Updated).
In the fall of 2015, the State Department updated its regulations for danger pay. All posts in Iraq were designated danger pay post at the 35%, the highest bracket (see New Danger Pay Differential Posts: See Gainers, Plus Losers Include One Post on Evacuation Status)
A January 2016 FedBiz solicitation estimated U.S. Mission Iraq personnel as between 4300– 5800 people.
In 2016, we blogged about the new folks leading the various posts under US Mission Iraq (see @StateDept Summer Rotation Brings New Faces to the U.S. Mission in Iraq. That same year, the US Embassy in Baghdad issued a warning on possible collapse of Iraq’s Mosul Dam. See also Failure of Iraq’s #Mosul Dam Would Likely Cause “A Catastrophe of Biblical Proportions”. Whatever happened to that? See this.
In June 2017, we learned that the State Department under new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson planned to close down the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah (see U.S. Consulate General #Basrah, Iraq: Six-Year Old Diplomatic Outpost Faces Closure).
Also in June 2017, the State Department awarded a $422,470,379.00 contract for the construction of the New Consulate Compound in Erbil, Iraq (NCC Erbil). @StateDept Awards $422M Contract For New Consulate Compound in Erbil, Iraq.
In September 2018, fifteen months after we blogged about the planned closure of Consulate Basrah under Tillerson (at that time we were told the planned closure had no timeline), the State Department, under the new leadership of Mike Pompeo ordered the mandatory evacuation for US Consulate General Basrah in Southern Iraq. Secretary Pompeo blamed Iran, and cited “increasing and specific threats and incitements to attack our personnel and facilities in Iraq.”
On October 18, 2018, the Department of State ordered the temporary suspension of operations at the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah.
In November 2018, President Trump nominated career diplomat Matthew Tueller to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. The nomination has been resubmitted to the SFRC on January 16, 2019 where it remains pending as of this writing. It looks like the SRFC is not in any great hurry to hold a confirmation hearing.
That’s where we are. Still remains to be seen what kind of budget allocation we’re going to see in the FY2020 budget proposal for US Mission Iraq, or what cost savings they’re looking at when this reduction is officially unveiled. It would also be interesting to see if this is the start of the end of the Iraq tax on diplomatic personnel and facilities worldwide.
Posted: 2:44 am EST
Updated: 10:33 am PST headline.
On January 23, 2019, Venezuela President Nicholas Madurobreak diplomatic relations with the United States. The U.S. diplomats in Venezuela were given 72 hours to leave the country. The announcement followed President Trump’s recognition of the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela. Later on January 23, the State Department issued a statement on the continuing U.S. presence in Venezuela, stating that it does not recognize the Maduro regime as the government of Venezuela nor does it recognize the legal authority of “former President Nicolas Maduro” to break diplomatic relations with the United States or to declare U.S. diplomats in the country persona non grata. The State Department statement also called on the Venezuelan military and security forces to “continue protecting the welfare and well being of all Venezuelan citizens, as well as U.S. and foreign citizens in Venezuela.” And that “the United States will take appropriate actions to hold accountable anyone who endangers the safety and security of our mission and its personnel.”
Perhaps popular support is with Juan Guaido as the Interim President of Venezuela, but the levers of power in government appears to remain with Maduro. And we doubt very much that Maduro will just step down quietly or peacefully just because the United States called on him to do so. In fact, he just called on the hardened and combatant people to be vigilant and to mobilized and defend the stability of the fatherland. “¡Ni golpismo, ni intervencionismo.” No coups, no interventionism.
In a related note, Senator Rubio suggests on Twitter that U.S. diplomats present their credentials to the interim president. Diplomats typically present credentials through the ministry of foreign affairs. For now, it looks like on its website and on Twitter — @CancilleriaVE— that government arm is still squarely behind Maduro.
In the meantime, Embassy Caracas issued a Security Alert noting that visa services have been cancelled but that they are keeping normal business hours for U.S. citizen emergency services. The alert also indicates that “U.S. government personnel have been asked to keep their preschool and school aged children home from school on January 24.”
U.S. citizens are advised that protests may continue through the rest of the week. The U.S. Embassy will maintain normal business hours and will receive any U.S. citizens needing emergency services on January 24, 2019 from 8:00am to 3:00pm. However, all visa appointments for January 24, 2019 have been cancelled. In addition, the movement of U.S. government personnel will be restricted to the following neighborhoods in Caracas: Valle Arriba and Santa Fe, as well as the Escuela Campo Alegre (ECA). U.S. government personnel have been asked to keep their preschool and school aged children home from school on January 24.
We understand that there are several dozens diplomats and family members in Caracas right now. Previous events indicate that in situations like this, there is typically an authorized or ordered departure, diplomatic terms for optional and mandatory evacuation of non-emergency personnel and family members. The goal is to minimize the footprint in country. Family members and non-emergency personnel gets an option to voluntarily depart first. As situation deteriorates, the State Department in the past declared posts/missions on “ordered departure” where leaving is mandatory for non-emergency personnel and almost always, for all family members.
Since the Embassy Alert has made reference to keeping preschool and school aged children home from school on January 24, we have a few questions:
#1. We understand that this recognition was not a surprise. We note that POTUS statement of recognition went up first, followed by VPOTUS video to Venezuelans, and the message of support later amplified by Secretary Pompeo. If so, why was there no authorized or ordered departure prior to the Trump Administration’s Guaido recognition announcement?
#2. Later on the 23rd, Secretary Pompeo released that statement about the continuing diplomatic presence in Venezuela. Again, if this was a well-thought out plan, why were non-emergency personnel and family members not ordered out of the country. Non-emergency personnel need not have to be there. Family members need not have to be there. So why are they there? A blog pal told us, “I can’t think of a single good reason why they didn’t send families and non-emergency staff out already”. Well, we sort of can. Now that the State Department has declared the United States’ continuing presence in Venezuela after Maduro cut off diplomatic relations and ordered the departure of all diplomats, it would look — bad/weak/take your pick — if the USG suddenly starts moving non-emergency personnel and family members out of the country. The thing is, they could have done all that earlier, but they did not. Why not?
#3. Since Maduro appears to still hold power in the country, including military and security forces, the USG’s non-recognition of his government has consequences for our people on the ground. After 72 hours passes, what diplomatic protection is afforded U.S. diplomats who have been declared “not welcome” in their host country? One Maduro ally has reportedly already said that there will be “no prerogatives for U.S. diplomats.” What that means exactly, we’ll have three days to wait and see.
#4. Pompeo’s statement on continuing U.S. presence appears to be baiting Maduro, calling him a “former persident” with no authority in a country he still runs, and at the same time threatening appropriate actions to hold accountable anyone who endangers the safety and security of our mission and its personnel. So the United States will retaliate if Maduro or his people harm unpaid US-government workers and their families at the US Mission in Caracas. Oh, look who are lining up behind Nicolas Maduro!
#5. Also last one – a cornered animal is a dangerous one. And humans, the most dangerous of all.
Looks like the US won’t pull its diplomats out of Venezuela. Yet. pic.twitter.com/HC5EZ1vZ0v
— Nahal Toosi (@nahaltoosi) January 24, 2019
And trust me on this one, if Maduro is stupid enough to test @realdonaldtrump by harming any U.S. diplomat, the consequences would be swift & severe.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) January 23, 2019
Nicolás Maduro orders U.S. diplomatic personnel out of Venezuela within 72 hours.
The U.S. claims not to recognize his right to speak for Venezuela on such matters.
So what does Maduro do if they don't leave?
— Caracas Chronicles (@CaracasChron) January 23, 2019
By the end of the day, it's likely that every large country in the Western Hemisphere except Mexico will have recognized Juan Guaidó's claim to the Venezuelan presidency.
Yet Juan Guaidó plainly doesn't control Venezuela's security services, or its government.
— Caracas Chronicles (@CaracasChron) January 23, 2019
It's hard to overstate the uncertainty in Venezuela right now. More or less anything could happen in Venezuela over the next 72 hours. https://t.co/xMluJVMxFu
— Francisco Toro (@QuicoToro) January 23, 2019
Very much hope you are right. But that’s not what Sec Pompeo is saying. Diplomatic immunity depends on host government. If diplomats stay after immunity expires, they can be subject to arrest. Remember Tehran? Hope Pompeo does. https://t.co/FKsmbQ5Zs8
— Steven Pifer (@steven_pifer) January 24, 2019
"U.S. government personnel have been asked to keep their preschool and school aged children home from school on January 24." https://t.co/S0KJrUXlwW
— Diplopundit (@Diplopundit) January 24, 2019
And then this: Diosdado Cabello, President of the Constituent Assembly in Venezuela under Maduro reportedly says that there will be no prerogatives for U.S. diplomats. “Maybe the light goes in that sector, the gas doesn’t come,” said Cabello as “things that could happen” at the Americans.
#MinutoAMinuto #23E: Cabello dice que no habrá prerrogativas a diplomáticos de Estados Unidos. “A lo mejor se va la luz en ese sector, no llega el gas”, dijo Cabello como “cosas que pudieran ocurrir” en la embajada estadounidense https://t.co/n2xzArHfe2 pic.twitter.com/WB28AQS2nP
— Jimena Tavel (@taveljimena) January 24, 2019
On January 2, the final day of the 15th Congress, the U.S. Senate did one mass confirmation of State Department, USAID and UN nominees. We’re going by the names tweeted by the Senate Cloakroom on Jan. 2 as there does not yet appear to be a list of the confirmed nominees. We previously posted the names pending on the Executive Calendar waiting for full Senate votes, see our post: Yo Wanna Spank Schumer But Not @Senatemajldr McConnell For Non-Confirmation of Ambassadors? Very Unfair!
All career ambassador nominees, with four exceptions, were confirmed. For political ambassador nominations, only two out of seven were confirmed (Australia and Kenya made it through). Two USAID and one UNFAO nominees also did not get their full Senate votes.
Based on that Executive Calendar list, we note that the following names were not/not included in the mass confirmation tweeted by @SenateCloakroom. Sometime tomorrow or the next day, we expect that these names, as well as those pending on the SFRC will be returned to the White House per Senate Rule. Most of the nominations that did not get a Senate vote today, and those pending in committee will most probably be renominated by the President within the next few days. We will have a separate posts if/when these nominees are renominated.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Stephen Akard, of Indiana, to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, with the rank of Ambassador, vice Gentry O. Smith, resigned.
Robert K. Scott, of Maryland, 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 Malawi.
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
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
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.
Jeffrey Ross Gunter, of California, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Iceland.
Lynda Blanchard, of Alabama, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Slovenia
Donald R. Tapia, of Arizona, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to Jamaica.
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.
Kenneth S. George, of Texas, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Oriental Republic of Uruguay.
It looks like the President of the United States is ending 2018 by ranting that “heads of countries” are calling and asking why Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer “is not approving their otherwise approved Ambassadors.” Well, first, to be clear, if they are really calling the WH asking about this, they would not be calling about “their otherwise approved ambassadors” because that would mean, these countries are calling about “their” ambassadors representing them in Washington. As far as we know, the U.S. Senate is not the entity that grants agrément for foreign diplomats to be appointed to the United States.
The president appears to be talking about U.S. Ambassadors nominated to foreign countries, which means, these are “our” ambassadors, and not these countries’ ambassadors even if they are assigned to these mysterious countries (whose “heads of countries” are um apparently “calling” and asking about stuff). If this is kinda confusing, try and imagine Saudi Arabia’s MBS or Turkey’s Erdogan calling the WH and asking what Schumer did to “their otherwise approved Ambassador” – that is, the Saudi Arabian and Turkish Ambassadors to the United States. They would not call the U.S. Ambassadors destined to their respective countries “their” ambassadors. We doubt if MBS would even call and ask what Schumer did to John Abizaid, Trump’s nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Why would he? He got you know who. Would Erdogan call and ask what Schumer did to Trump’s nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Turkey? He wouldn’t, cmon. There isn’t one.
Second, we should note that there are indeed multiple nominees pending on the Senate Calendar and waiting for their full Senate votes. Except for two nominations who are subjects to two Democratic Senate holds, the rest of the nominees have been waiting for GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to put them up for a vote. Over the past year, the GOP appeared to prioritized the confirmation of judicial nominees. In the last 12 months, approximately 70 Judiciary nominees were confirmed while only about 47 State Department nominees were confirmed for the same duration (excluding USAID, UN, and Foreign Service lists).
We have a separate post on the nominations that are currently pending at the SFRC. We are anticipating that most of these nominees will be renominated at the beginning of the next Congress, and that most of them will probably get confirmation from the Senate given the GOP’s expanded majority in the 116th Congress. We don’t know how many more judicial nominees the GOP is planning to shovel through the confirmation process, however, but if there is a large enough number, those again could have an impact on the speed of confirmation for State Department nominees.
Below are the nominations pending in the Executive Calendar. May be there is a potential for the U.S. Senate to have mass confirmation of these nominations on January 2? You all can hope, right? We’ll have to wait and see.
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Carol Z. Perez, of Virginia, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of MinisterCounselor, to be Director General of the Foreign Service, vice Arnold A. Chacon, resigned.
Ellen E. McCarthy, of Virginia, to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Intelligence and Research), vice Daniel Bennett Smith.
Stephen Akard, of Indiana, to be Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, with the rank of Ambassador, vice Gentry O. Smith, resigned.
Lynne M. Tracy, of Ohio, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of MinisterCounselor, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Armenia.
Christopher Paul Henzel, 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 Yemen.
Sarah-Ann Lynch, 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 Co-operative Republic of Guyana
Earle D. Litzenberger, of California, 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 Azerbaijan.
Matthew John Matthews, 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 Brunei Darussalam.
Michael S. Klecheski, 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 Mongolia.
Thank you @USAIDMarkGreen for hosting me at @USAID today. It was great to speak with the USAID team. Your work is saving lives and building partnerships to create a world where foreign aid is no longer needed. #DevJourney #MeetWithMike pic.twitter.com/DdT472CGm4
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 28, 2018
This is terribly short-sighted by the Trump Admin. It will do little to pressure Palestinian leaders to come to talks, will harm ordinary Palestinians, &most of all, deprive the US of a key tool to promote stability that benefits Israelis and Palestinians. https://t.co/t3ETbiunMf
— Dan Shapiro (@DanielBShapiro) November 25, 2018
USAID said to plan firing over half its employees in West Bank and Gaza https://t.co/Em8qoepCYi
— The Times of Israel (@TimesofIsrael) November 26, 2018
— Robbie Gramer (@RobbieGramer) December 1, 2018
On Wednesday, senior @USAID official Jeanne Pryor toured an east Jerusalem hospital and visited a Palestinian child undergoing dialysis, @lutheranworld says. On Thursday, the US cut all aid to that hospital and others in east Jerusalem, @statedept says. https://t.co/mmzwpxXo62
— Daniel Estrin (@DanielEstrin) September 8, 2018
Rex Tillerson was confirmed and assumed charged of the State Department on February 1, 2017 as the 69th Secretary of State. He was fired on March 13, 2018 and left Foggy Bottom for the last time on March 22, 2018. Below is the comparative look of Foreign Service family member employment numbers inside overseas missions from Spring 2014 to Spring 2018. Overseas missions include over 275 diplomatic and consular posts overseas located in 191 countries.
During Tillerson’s brief tenure at the State Department, there was quite a shock when a large number of offices at the top of the State Department were left empty. We’re not sure if that was intentional (so control remains with the Secretary’s inner circle absent the presidential appointees), or if this was because Tillerson and the White House could not agree on the same nominees for these offices. In some cases there were career diplomats appointed in acting capacities, in others, there were only senior bureau officials. We’re almost at the two year mark of this administration, and the State Department is already on its second secretary of state in a four year term, so we’ve decided to take a look at the geographic bureau appointments. For non-State readers, note that embassies do not report directly to the secretary of state, just as ambassadors do not report directly to the White House; they report through the geographic bureaus. Of course, these days, the traditional reporting structure seems to be breaking apart (which invite chaos), but the staffing is worth taking a look nonetheless.
According to AFSA’s appointment tracker, out of 49 total appointments at the top ranks of the State Department right now, only five are career appointees. The five appointments include three active Foreign Service officers, U/S Political Affairs David Hale (confirmed), Carol Z. Perez as DGHR (nominated, pending confirmation) and USAID’s Michael T. Harvey as Assistant Administrator, Middle East (nominated, pending confirmation). The other two are recalled retired FSOs Tibor Nagy, Jr. for African Affairs (confirmed), and Ronald Mortensen for Population, Refugees and Migration (nominated, pending confirmation). There are also two previous members of the Foreign Service (Diplomatic Security’s Michael Evanoff and Consular Affairs’ Carl Risch) who were two of Trump’s earliest appointees but are considered political appointees.
Going back to 1960, the European and Eurasian Affairs (70.6%), Near Eastern Affairs (85.7%), and African Affairs (53.8%) have the highest numbers of career appointees at the assistant secretary level. The largest number of noncareer appointees in the geographic bureaus are in International Organizational Affairs (23.1%) followed by East Asian And Pacific Affairs (42.9%). South and Central Asian Affairs (50.0%) and Western Hemisphere Affairs (50.0%) are split in the middle between career and noncareer appointees.
During Obama’s first term, the assistant secretary appointments at the regional bureaus was 57% noncareer and 42% career. On his second term, this flipped with career appointees leading four of the seven bureaus.
George W. Bush made a total of 19 appointments (career-8; noncareer-11) in the geographic bureaus during his two terms in office. This translates to 57.8% noncareer and 42.1% career appointments.
Right now, Trump’s overall State Department appointments are 89.8% noncareer and only 10.2% career appointees. His career appointments in the geographic bureaus is currently at 1 out of 7. We do need to point out that with the exception of African Affairs (AF) where the appointee is a recalled retired FSO, there are no active service diplomats tasked with leading a geographic bureau in Foggy Bottom. It is possible that this Administration will bring in a career diplomat to head the South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA) bureau, but then again, if they have not found one before now, who’s to say that they will ever find a career diplomat that they like enough to nominate in the next two years?
Of course, everything’s fine. It’s not like we have an ongoing war in Afghanistan, yeah?
Below is the staffing/vacancy status of assistant secretaries at the geographic bureaus as of this writing.
CURRENT Assistant Secretary: Tibor P. Nagy, Jr. (2018-
East Asian and Pacific Affairs (EAP): Click here for the countries covered by the bureau. Department website notes that “The Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, headed by Senior Bureau Official W. Patrick Murphy deals with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. relations with the countries in the Asia-Pacific region.”
CURRENT: No Acting Assistant Secretary
NOMINATED: David Stilwell (NonCareer/Pending at SFRC)
European and Eurasian Affairs (EUR): The Department of State established the position of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs in 1949. The name changed to the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs on August 8, 2001. The bureau covers these countries.
Near Eastern Affairs (NEA): The Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) deals with U.S. foreign policy and U.S. diplomatic relations with Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Regional policy issues that NEA handles include Iraq, Middle East peace, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and political and economic reform
CURRENT: Acting Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs
David M. Satterfield (Career FSO)
NOMINATED David Schenker
(NonCareer/Pending at SFRC since 4/2018)
South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA): The Bureau of South Asian Affairs was established Aug 24, 1992, and is responsible for relations with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and the Maldive Islands. It has since expanded to cover these countries.
CURRENT: No Acting Assistant Secretary
NO NOMINEE ANNOUNCED
Western Hemisphere Affairs (WHA): On January 12, 1999, the Bureau assumed responsibility for Canada and was renamed the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs. The Department of State had first established a Division of Latin American Affairs in 1909. The bureau covers these countries.
CURRENT Assistant Secretary: Kimberly Breier (2018-)
International Organization Affairs (IO): The Department of State created the position of Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs in February 1949, using one of the six Assistant secretary positions originally authorized by Congress in 1944 (Dec 8, 1944; P.L. 78-472; 58 Stat. 798). On June 24, 1949, Secretary of State Dean Acheson established the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO) as part of the U.S. effort to meet the needs of post-World War II diplomacy. IO is the U.S. Government’s primary interlocutor with the United Nations and a host of international agencies and organizations.
CURRENT Assistant Secretary: Kevin Edward Moley (2018-)