NEWARK — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Ranking Member of the Senator Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after President Trump announced he will name Marshall Billingslea as a Special Envoy for Arms Control, a new position to lead arms control negotiations with the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China. The Senate-confirmed positions that would normally lead arms control negotiations, the Under-Secretary for Arms Control and International Security (T) and the Assistant Secretary for Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance (AVC), have remained unfilled for 6 and 11 months respectively, and the administration has failed to even nominate anyone for these critical positions.
“This terrible decision is emblematic both of this administration’s willingness to sidestep the Senate’s constitutionally-mandated role of nominee advice and consent, and the haphazard, careless way the administration treats nuclear diplomacy.
“While dozens of critical positions at the State Department remain vacant, it is incredibly troubling that this Administration is incapable or unwilling to do the work of nominating qualified individuals to lead critical arms control negotiates with our most powerful rivals. This is yet another reckless abdication of a constitutional responsibility essential to projecting American power abroad.
“Mr. Billinsglea has a troubled history with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Following his unsuccessful nomination for the State Department’s top human rights post, serious questions remain concerning whether he was forthright and truthful when testifying before the committee about his role in the detainee torture scandal during the Bush administration. Making matters worse, Mr. Billingslea refused to even respond to any of the follow-up questions asked by myself and other Senators following his September 19, 2019 nominations hearing.
“This is not who should be put in charge of our nuclear diplomacy. If the administration is truly serious about pursuing an effective arms control agenda, it should reverse course and nominate qualified individuals for the critical unfilled senior arms control positions at the State Department as soon as possible.”