November 17, 2010

Chairman Kerry Opening Statement At Nomination Hearing For State Department And USAID Nominees

Washington, DC – This morning, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) chaired a nomination hearing for Thomas Nides to be Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, William Brownfield to be Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook to be Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, and Paige Eve Alexander to be an Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The full text of his statement as prepared is below:

It is a pleasure to welcome four outstanding public servants to our Committee. Thomas Nides has been nominated to be Deputy Secretary of Management and Resources and will be our first witness. 

Our second panel will consist of William Brownfield, nominated as Assistant Secretary for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook, nominated to the post of Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, and Paige Eve Alexander, the nominee for Assistant Administrator for Europe and Eurasia for the U.S. Agency for International Development.

I am pleased that the President has nominated Tom Nides to the deputy’s post.  This is an important position at a critical time. I’ve known Tom for many years and he brings exemplary credentials to this position. He has helped run some of America’s top companies and he is familiar with the ways of Congress after spending a number of years as a senior Congressional aide. Tom, I look forward to your testimony.

We are coming to the end of the President’s second year in office and we can point to a number of achievements in that short time span. But significant challenges lie before us. I’d like to touch on three critical tasks that you will face immediately as Deputy Secretary.

First, you will have primary responsibility for shepherding and defending the President’s Fiscal Year 2012 international affairs budget request. We face an increasingly uncertain budget environment, particularly when it comes to foreign affairs. Some members of Congress, especially some our incoming members, have expressed reservations about money for the foreign affairs budget. You will need to join us to make sure we have the resources to support critical missions around the world, from achieving success in Afghanistan and maintaining our partnership with Pakistan to continuing to fight hunger and the scourge of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis across the developing world.

Second, as the de facto Chief Operating Officer, you will be responsible for critical management functions at State. First on your list will be to roll out and implement the Secretary’s Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. I understand the process is nearing completion and Congress can expect a set of recommendations in mid-December. We look forward to working with you in developing a new 21st century blueprint for our foreign affairs agencies, including necessary legislation. 

Third, major shifts in the global economy raise both challenges and opportunities for the United States that stretch beyond traditional foreign policy lines. Economic crises risk destabilizing governments and exacerbating political crises.

Relationships with rising powers like China and India are driven more than ever by economic interactions. Our National Economic Security has become an integral part of our overall National Security. This will require you to weigh in at the highest levels with other agencies on economic matters, and to bring the full weight of the Department to bear on these questions.

Tom, it’s a big job and we thank you – and your wife Virginia and son Max and daughter Taylor -- for your commitment to public service and your dedication to helping lead the Department of State through such a critical period in our foreign policy.


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