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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 Mr. Scott Nathan to be Chief Executive Officer of the United States International Development Finance Corporation; the Honorable John R. Bass, a Career Member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Career Minister, to be an Under Secretary of State (Management); the Honorable Mark Brzezinski to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Republic of Poland; and Mr. Michael M. Adler to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Kingdom of Belgium.

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


“We are here today to consider nominations for four important positions: Ambassador John Bass to be Undersecretary for Management, Mr. Scott Nathan to be Chief Executive Officer for the United States International Development Finance Corporation, Ambassador Mark Brzezinski to be Ambassador to Poland, and Mr. Michael Adler to be Ambassador to Belgium.

Congratulations to all of you on your nominations. I appreciate your willingness and that of your families, as we understand families are a part of the sacrifice to serve our country in this capacity.

Before I start any comments, I understand that our colleague from the great commonwealth of Virginia – and former governor of Virginia – Senator Warner is here to introduce Mr. Nathan.

Senator Warner?

Thank you Senator Warner for that glowing introduction of Mr. Nathan. I know that being governor is an exalted status, but some of us believe that being a U.S. senator is a real job as well. On that note, I will let you go to some other important meeting that you have with the Intelligence Committee.

I just realized I am surrounded by former governors.

Ambassador Bass, it is good to see you again before the Committee. You have a long and distinguished public service trajectory that I believe will serve you well upon your confirmation to be the Under Secretary of State for Management.

As you well know, Secretary Blinken inherited a damaged and depleted Department. As I documented in a Committee Report last year – ‘Diplomacy in Crisis’ – the last administration’s repeated assault on State Department personnel, management, and resources were unconscionable and dangerous for long-term U.S. foreign policy interests. Confidence in leadership decayed and key bureaus were gutted.

In fairness, as I have acknowledged before, many institutional, budgetary, and morale problems are also the result of multiple administrations, and congressional action and inaction, as well. That is why I believe there is now broad and bipartisan consensus that critical efforts need to be taken to address core structural and resource issues that have too long plagued the Department. While I was encouraged to hear Secretary Blinken’s speech on State Department modernization in October, I hope you will provide more specifics today on how you intend to execute each of the five pillars he outlined, particularly on how you plan to build capacity on critical issues like cyber and technology, climate, and global health, and to improve diversity at the Department.

Separately, I’d like to take a moment to speak about your recent work in Afghanistan as this Committee would also be interested in hearing your views on the evacuation efforts that you helped oversee this past August. 

While the State Department performed heroically in that effort, the fact of the matter is that the Department — and the United States — never should have been in the position where that sort of desperate heroism was necessary. To my mind — and this is directly relevant to the job that you have been nominated for — it speaks to serious shortcomings in the Department’s planning and contingency response capacity.

I recognize that today’s hearing is not a post-mortem on Afghanistan, but I am interested in what lessons you learned from this experience and how you will apply those lessons as the Deputy for Management, if confirmed.

Mr. Nathan, congratulations on your nomination. I appreciate your visit with me yesterday.

If confirmed, you would be leading an agency that is without question an important new asset for advancing U.S. economic competitiveness in the global economy, alleviating poverty and improving opportunity, growth and stability in countries — all of which are incredibly important U.S. foreign policy objectives.

However, during the DFC’s brief history, there have been many questions raised—from the decision to grant authorities to the DFC to pursue domestic deals under the Defense Production Act, to the series of projects in Upper Middle-Income countries, to over-promising on prospective investments—there is a need for a cultural reset at the DFC.

Yet the Agency has demonstrated its potential, coming into existence at a critical moment for enhancing U.S. development finance policies and programs, with significant potential to be a vehicle to provide support to our friends and allies who are under increasing economic and diplomatic pressure from Beijing.

I look forward to hearing your vision for ensuring the DFC fulfills the BUILD Act’s mandate to pursue projects that advance clear development outcomes while also taking strategic approaches for advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives. This includes the importance of addressing the climate crisis and the need to convert the global economy to clean energy, as highlighted during last month’s COP26.

Ambassador Brzezinski, welcome back to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Your nomination comes at a critical time for Poland and I must note the United States’ steadfast commitment to Poland’s security. As you know, Poland is a longtime friend and NATO ally and nothing will undermine our commitment to supporting Poland and defending NATO’s Eastern Flank.

The illegitimate Lukashenka regime’s use of migrants and hybrid tactics at Poland’s border is unacceptable and inhumane. Poland is on the frontlines, and the United States will always support Poland in defending its territorial integrity and security.

However, while Poland’s security is of utmost importance, we also must underscore that NATO is strengthened by our commitment to democratic values and human rights. To that end, I am deeply concerned by continued attacks on the independence of Poland’s judiciary.

In Warsaw, it will be your job to urge the Polish government to live up to its commitments as a NATO ally that supports a vibrant judiciary, free press and rights for all its citizens and I am confident that you are the right choice to represent the United States in Warsaw.

Finally, Mr. Adler. Congratulations on your nomination.

I trust that, if confirmed, you will draw from your experience in the private sector to advocate for U.S. interests in Belgium. As you know, hundreds of U.S. firms are represented in Belgium—in 2020 it was the 13th largest recipient of U.S. exports and we appreciate Belgium’s support for the U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council to further strengthen transatlantic ties.

In addition, we are grateful for Belgium’s partnership in the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS. Belgium is a NATO partner, and a leader on human rights and democracy. I look forward to getting you to Brussels as soon as possible to continue to strengthen our relationship with an important ally.

We look forward to each of your testimonies. Let me turn to the distinguished Ranking Member, Senator Risch, for his comments.”