Washington, DC – Nearly 350 former national security and foreign service officials signed a letter released today calling for urgent action by the Senate to confirm nominated Department of State and USAID officials. The current rate of confirmations is well below that of previous administrations at a similar point in their first term.
The letter was signed by a wide array of national security and foreign policy professionals from states across the country.
Ambassador Thomas R. Pickering, Former Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and U.S. Ambassador to Russia, India, the United Nations, Israel, El Salvador, Nigeria, and Jordan
Michèle A. Flournoy, Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy
John B. Bellinger III, Former Legal Advisor of the Department of State
Lieutenant General (Ret.) Vincent Stewart, Former Deputy Commander, Cyber Command
Ambassador (Ret.) David Jacobson, Former U.S. Ambassador to Canada
The letter, organized by Foreign Policy for America, notes with alarm that the Senate has thus far confirmed only six of President Biden’s ambassadorial nominees, and just eleven Assistant Secretaries of State. At USAID, only two appointees requiring Senate confirmation have been approved. Of the 235 Senate-confirmed State Department positions, only 24 have confirmed occupants, while 83 are at the Senate awaiting confirmation. The resulting vacancies have damaged U.S. foreign relations and our ability to address international threats, all while our competitors remain fully engaged.
The letter’s signatories urge Senate leadership to accelerate the confirmation process for existing State Department and USAID nominees and clear the current backlog. The letter goes on to specify that if unanimous consent agreements cannot be obtained to expedite confirmations, that Leader Schumer should once again dedicate the floor time necessary to approve these nominations by regular order.
“What Senator Cruz is doing today is dangerous. It’s costly for all of us. Never in American history has one Senator done so much to damage our security, our economic interests, our fundamental relationships with countries around the world who we count on for support, than Senator Cruz is doing today,” said FP4A Executive Director Andrew Albertson. “He has deprived the State Department and USAID of a huge swath of its senior leadership, stretching them thin at a time when the United States needs to be out there defending Americans’ interests. We want to be crystal clear: this is a full-scale crisis. If Senate leadership cannot secure unanimous consent to move these nominees forward, then the only remaining option is to devote nights and weekends to confirming President Biden’s nominees until the State Department and USAID are made whole.”