May 21, 2020

SFRC Approves Risch, Menendez Resolution Lauding State Department Professionals for Their Efforts to Bring Home Americans Stranded Abroad During Pandemic

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today led the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in approving a bipartisan resolution commending State Department professionals for their dedication repatriating United States citizens and legal permanent residents during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resolution now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

The State Department’s Repatriation Task Force, along with U.S. embassy staff around the globe and in collaboration with the United States Transportation Command, have brought home more than 85,000 Americans from 128 countries and territories to date. 

“Most Americans don’t usually see the State Department at work, much less experience firsthand the outstanding work of our diplomats abroad,” said Risch. “Over the past several months, the State Department has activated one of the largest diplomatic missions in its history in order to bring home more than 85,000 Americans from every corner of the globe. I’m glad the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was able to pass this resolution today to thank the State Department professionals for their unwavering support to getting every American home.”

“I am thrilled to lead this effort to show our gratitude for the State Department professionals who stepped up during this crisis, often at great personal risk, to help evacuate tens of thousands of American citizens trapped around the world, often facing travel restrictions imposed by foreign governments,” said Menendez. “The lack of preparedness and planning by the Trump Administration for repatriations of this scale did not stop our nation’s career civil service and foreign service professionals from bravely tackling an unprecedented challenge, even if it meant sacrificing their own health to protect their fellow Americans.  This resolution sends a strong message that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee stands in solidarity with, and in admiration of, our dedicated public servants across the world who continue to serve our nation without regard to party, president, or politics.”

Also cosponsoring the resolution were Senators Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“I’m pleased to join my colleagues in this bipartisan resolution to recognize career professionals at the State Department for their tireless efforts to help thousands of Americans — including many Virginians — return home safely to their families, under unprecedented circumstances,” said Kaine.

“The men and women of the Foreign Service and civil servants at the State Department have demonstrated their commitment to supporting the American people. In the midst of this unprecedented pandemic, they were at the front lines of efforts to bring stranded Americans home, often risking their own safety, to reunite families,” said Coons. “I am proud to have cosponsored this resolution and I look forward to working across the aisle to find other ways to support the career professionals in Foggy Bottom and U.S. embassies around the world.”

“The rapid spread of COVID-19 prevented many Granite Staters from returning home and I’m very grateful for all the work done by State Department staff to return them to their families,” said Shaheen. “This resolution also acknowledges the tireless workers of the National Passport Center and National Visa Center, whose work ensures that vital services remain operational, including for tasks critical to our national security, health care systems and food supply chains. I’m very glad that the Senate has passed this appropriate tribute to all these faithful public servants.”

"I'm grateful for the hard work of America's Foreign Service officers and State Department professionals, which helps keep Americans safe and builds important partnerships around the world," said Merkley. "In the face of an unprecedented global health emergency, these dedicated public servants worked tirelessly to bring Americans who were stranded abroad back to their communities, families, and loved ones. On behalf of all Oregonians, I thank them for their expertise and creativity during these especially trying times."

“COVID-19 has placed unimaginable strains on our State Department, especially the foreign service and foreign service nationals serving globally on behalf of the American people,” said Cardin. “We salute their dedication and personal sacrifice during the emergence of this pandemic. Their ability to navigate the changing landscape in each country, helped bring Marylanders back home from every corner of the world, along with tens of thousands of U.S. citizens and permanent residents simply trying to get back to their families.”

"Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the thousands of civil service employees, Foreign Service officers and specialists, and Locally Employed staff of the Department of State who have worked tirelessly for months, often at risk to their and their families' health, to bring more than 70,000 U.S. citizens and their families home during this global pandemic,” said Markey. “We admire and recognize their personal sacrifices in the line of duty and the risks they take each day as they represent and serve the people of the United States at home and around the world."

"As the world faces unprecedented challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic, our State Department officials in the U.S. and abroad continue their tireless efforts to help Americans stranded overseas return home safely," said Rubio. "I'm proud to join this bipartisan effort that commends our diplomats in the State Department and the members of the Global Repatriation Task Force."

“I applaud our dedicated State Department officials, both at home and around the world, whose tireless efforts brought hundreds of Utahns and their loved ones safely home,” said Romney. “With this resolution we honor them and offer our sincere gratitude for their service to our country during this pandemic.”

“I have worked closely with the Trump Administration since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic to bring home thousands of Texans stranded abroad as result of actions taken around the world to stop the spread of this virus and protect public health,” said Cruz. “I’m grateful for every step the State Department and the Repatriation Task Force have taken to ensure the safety and security of Texans and all Americans during this time and I’m proud to join this resolution to commend their efforts.”

A copy of the resolution can be found here.

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