July 20, 2021

Chairman Menendez Delivers Opening Statement at Nominations Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the following opening remarks at this morning’s full Committee hearing to consider the nominations of Ms. Paloma Adams-Allen to be a Deputy Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (Management and Resources); Dr. Karen Donfried to be an Assistant Secretary of State (European Affairs and Eurasian Affairs); the Honorable Mary Catherine Phee to be an Assistant Secretary of State (African Affairs); and Ms. Anne A. Witkowksy to be an Assistant Secretary of State (Conflict and Stabilization Operations), and to be Coordinator for Reconstruction and Development.

Find a copy of Chairman Menendez’s remarks as delivered below.

“We are here today to consider four important nominations: Ms. Paloma Adams-Allen to be a Deputy Administrator for Management and Resources at the Agency for International Development, Dr. Karen Donfried to be Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Ambassador Mary Catherine Phee to be Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and Ms. Anne A. Witkowsky to be Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations.

Congratulations to the four of you on your nominations. We appreciate your willingness to serve our country in these capacities, as well as those members of your families because we recognize this is a family sacrifice, so we thank them as well.

Ms. Adams-Allen, your lifelong dedication to international development and distinguished career of government service— including as Deputy Assistant Administrator at the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau of the United States Agency for International Development — I believe makes you imminently qualified for this position.

If confirmed, your knowledge and experience as a development professional and your distinguished tenure as the President and CEO of the Inter-American Foundation will be needed as you take on the role of Deputy Administrator for Management and Resources at USAID.

I’m pleased to see that President Biden’s budget aims to restore the value and use of international development and foreign assistance as part of the overall goal of achieving U.S. foreign policy objectives.

I know Administrator Power is entirely committed to this vital task, and I appreciated her testimony on the budget last week. I have no doubt you will share this commitment.

Dr. Donfried, your nomination is a testament to the Biden administration’s efforts to rebuild the transatlantic relationship, which I believe was significantly damaged by the last Administration. If confirmed, I believe your knowledge and experience—including as Senior Director for European Affairs at the National Security Council—will serve you and the country well as the Biden administration works to advance a renewed transatlantic relationship.

It is imperative that this position be filled as soon as possible, as we need to see forward movement on critical issues, including those related to Russia, Turkey, Belarus, and our support for Ukraine, among others. I look forward to hearing from you about these issues.

Ambassador Phee, I’m pleased to see you back before the Committee. The position you are nominated for—to be the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs—comes at a critical time for Africa, a continent with enormous promise and challenges. 

However, the impacts of the third wave of COVID-19 on top of political and security challenges could roll back years of democratic progress and economic growth. Indeed, the Biden administration faces a series of challenges in Africa—from China and Russia, which continue to pursue actions that are inimical to U.S. interests to conflict, to instability and a flawed electoral exercise in Ethiopia, to a fragile transition in Sudan, which could be destabilizing to the entire Horn of Africa. These are just a few among the many challenges facing Africa and U.S. interests there. 

In short, the challenges in the region are pressing and vast. I know that you are well-equipped, based on your experience to carry on and meet those challenges, and trust that, if confirmed, you will do so with skill and commitment.

Ms. Witkowsky, your knowledge and experience—including as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability and Humanitarian Affairs—will be critical if you are confirmed to be the next Assistant Secretary of State for Conflict and Stabilization Operations.

Indeed, your commitment and expertise with many of today’s complex conflicts—from Burma, Venezuela, Ethiopia, the Sahel, Yemen, to Afghanistan—will be needed as CSO develops long-range strategic policies and plans in order to address ongoing conflicts as well as to prevent future ones. I look forward to hearing from you about how you will approach this task.  

In closing, while the four of you have a series of challenges ahead, I am confident that your commitment and experience will serve you well as you take on your new responsibilities, upon confirmation.

I look forward to your testimonies and now I turn to the Ranking Member for his opening remarks.”

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