December 14, 2021

Chairman Menendez Opening Remarks at Full Committee Nominations Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today delivered the below opening remarks at this morning’s full Committee hearing to consider the nominations of the Honorable Donald Armin Blome to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan; the Honorable Eric M. Garcetti to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of India; and Dr. Amy Gutmann to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Federal Republic of Germany:

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

“This hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will come to order.

We are here today to consider nominations for three important positions: Mayor Eric Garcetti to be Ambassador to India, Ambassador Donald Blome to be Ambassador to Pakistan, and Dr. Amy Gutmann to be Ambassador to Germany.

Congratulations to the three of you. We appreciate your willingness, as well as that of your families, to serve the country in this capacity.

We have some of our colleagues here today, and we want to recognize them first.

I understand that Senators Toomey and Casey will be introducing Dr. Gutmann and that Senator Padilla will be introducing Mayor Garcetti.

Let’s start with Senator Toomey.

Thank you. Senator Casey?

Thank you, Senator Casey. Timing is everything in life, and Senator Padilla has now made it on time to introduce Mayor Garcetti.

Thank you, Senator Padilla. We know you have other important duties, so when you need to, please feel free to excuse yourself.

Let me turn to a few brief remarks on these three nominees.  

Mayor Garcetti, I welcome your nomination to this post at a critical time in the U.S.-India relationship. With more than 1.3 billion people and the sixth largest economy in the world, India is a vital strategic partner for the United States.

As a member of the Quad – alongside the United States, Japan, and Australia – India is playing a greater role in helping maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific. In September, the Biden administration hosted the first ever in-person Quad summit here in Washington.

When it comes to the bilateral relationship, there is much to discuss. In particular, the shared threat of climate change and India’s growing need for electricity presents an opportunity for deeper cooperation. That is why I introduced the Prioritizing Clean Energy and Climate Cooperation with India Act, which would help advance India’s climate goals. In addition, dealing with the coronavirus must also remain a core element of our bilateral engagement. As you know, India was on the frontlines of the pandemic earlier this year when it faced a devastating surge in new cases.

As we deepen our partnership with New Delhi, there will inevitably be areas of friction, including concerns related to India’s purchase of Russian military hardware and reports of democratic backsliding and discrimination against religious minorities.

I expect you to be frank with your Indian counterparts not just on areas of cooperation but also on these differences, all of which are bipartisan priorities for this Committee. New Delhi will need to address our concerns if it seeks to deepen our partnership even further.

Having you in place in New Delhi, Mayor Garcetti, will be critical to advance U.S. interests on these issues and many others.

Ambassador Blome, I welcome your nomination at this particularly challenging moment in the U.S.-Pakistan bilateral relationship. As I told this Committee last month, the failure of our mission in Afghanistan was due, in no small part, to years of Pakistani double-dealing. Islamabad offered safe haven to the Taliban even as its militants targeted and killed U.S. troops. We need to have a serious conversation with the Pakistani government on the path forward, and I am confident that you will deliver a tough message to them, if confirmed.

Beyond Afghanistan, I remain deeply concerned about the growing strength of extremist groups within Pakistan itself. The government has created an increasingly permissive environment for extremists groups to operate. Pakistan has also become an increasingly dangerous place for religious minorities and I am eager to hear your views on how to strengthen religious freedom in Pakistan.

However, there are many other important equities in the bilateral relationship, such as curbing nuclear proliferation, managing tensions with India, and responding to COVID-19. Your experience in Kabul and at other hardship posts will be an asset, and I look forward to hearing how you will address these challenges in Islamabad.

Dr. Gutmann, welcome and congratulations on your nomination. Your years of experience as the president of a leading university, your academic experience, and your powerful family history will no doubt serve us well.

The importance of having a Senate-confirmed U.S. ambassador in Berlin cannot be overstated. This is a critical time for the transatlantic relationship, and particularly for the United States and Germany.

With a new German government, we have a great opportunity to build on and renew decades of friendship and cooperation. It’s no secret that U.S.-German relations suffered under the last administration. I am confident that upon your confirmation, you will help return the relationship to one of respect and to a close, strategic partnership.

Germany is also a critical ally in our efforts to deter Russian aggression in Europe, and prevent a renewed invasion of Ukraine.

As Putin continues to try to bully his way through Europe, we need strong U.S. representation, and close coordination with allies, to stand up for our partners, and reject illegitimate efforts to redraw the map of Europe.

The urgency of these challenges underscores why we need our Embassy in Berlin to have a confirmed ambassador in place immediately. I hope my colleagues will join me in supporting your nomination and moving it forward swiftly.

Let me turn to the Ranking Member for his opening remarks.”

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