February 04, 2021

Chairman Menendez Remarks Ahead of SFRC Approval of Linda Thomas-Greenfield to Serve as UN Ambassador

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered the following remarks at this morning’s Committee business meeting calling for the confirmation of Linda Thomas-Greenfield to serve as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.  Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s nomination was approved by an 18-4 vote and now moves to the Floor for consideration by the full Senate.

“Our country is lucky that the Ambassador has agreed to return to public service. We face an array of formidable challenges, both around the world and at the United Nations, that demand someone with her skills and commitment to democracy, good governance, human rights, and anti-corruption efforts,” Chairman Menendez said. “And I have no doubt that upon confirmation she will skillfully and forcefully represent the United States.”

Below are Chairman Menendez’s full remarks as delivered:

“The business meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will come to order.

Welcome everybody.

First, I want to thank Senator Risch for working with us to get to this point so that we can consider the nomination of the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, and I appreciate his work with us in this regard. And I look forward to working with him in common cause in the bipartisan tradition that the Committee has had for a very long time.

Let me welcome two – well four – new members to the Committee. Senator Schatz and Senator Van Hollen – we look forward to your participation and insights and experience. Senator Booker is extremely thrilled that you have been added to the Committee so that he’s not at the end of the roster.

Let me also welcome Senator Rounds and Senator Hagerty, who served our country in Japan. We appreciate you bringing your experiences and expertise to the Committee as well and we look forward to working with you.

I want to first recognize Chairman Risch for his stewardship of the Committee during the last Congress, and I look forward to an opportunity in the near future to discuss our priorities for the 117th Congress and to hear yours. Today I will simply note how honored I am to once again have the opportunity to have the gavel as the Chairman.

Today we will consider the nomination of Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be the U.S. Representative to the United Nations and to the Security Council and the General Assembly of the UN.

Senator Risch, as I said, I want to first thank you again for helping us put Ambassador Greenfield’s hearing last week and this business meeting today.

It is an understatement to say that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is eminently qualified for the position of U.S. Representative to the United Nations. For over 35 years, she has served this country faithfully and ably, under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Ambassador to Liberia, Director General of the Foreign Service, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Her record of service in the senior and Senate-confirmed positions of the State Department has been extraordinary.

Our country is lucky that the Ambassador has agreed to return to public service. We face an array of formidable challenges, both around the world and at the United Nations, that demand someone with her skills and commitment to democracy, good governance, human rights, and anti-corruption efforts.

Let me briefly address the issue of the Ambassador’s speech to Savannah State University, which was the focus of much questioning last week. She was invited by the oldest historical black college and university in Georgia, a college with which she had a longstanding relationship. She accepted because of her commitment to diversity, a subject that has long been close to my own heart and that I pressed her on when she was Director General. We heard important remarks from our colleague, Senator Booker, one of only 11 African-American Senators in our nation’s history, about the importance of HBCUs in producing African-American leaders.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield spoke at Savannah State to encourage young black and brown Americans, who are underrepresented in our Foreign Service, to take their considerable talents and consider careers in U.S. national security, and especially to enter our foreign service so they can help spread American values around the world.

While she acknowledged regret over the speech, particularly given the involvement of the Confucius Institute, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has a long history of expressed opposition to China’s use of debt-trap tactics in Africa and elsewhere, and its increasingly malign presence in world governance bodies. She has also spoken plainly about China’s authoritarian ambitions and open hostility to universal human rights and democratic values, and has committed to confronting them every step of the way, including at the United Nations.

Last week I went over some examples from her storied career as it relates to China specifically, and entered a longer list into the record, leaving no question on where she stands.

I have no doubt that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is someone who is clear-eyed about the challenges we face from China’s government, about regaining U.S. leverage and influence in the Security Council, about re-engaging our allies and holding Iran accountable, and about standing up when Israel is subject to biased attacks. And I have no doubt that upon confirmation she will skillfully and forcefully represent the United States.

She has my full support, and I urge my colleagues to support her nomination.

With that, let me recognize our distinguished ranking member for his comments. Senator Risch.”

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