WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today delivered the following opening statement at this morning’s full Committee hearing to consider the nominations of Ms. Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath to be Ambassador to the Republic of Peru; Mr. Arthur W. Brown to be Ambassador to the Republic of Ecuador; Ms. Yael Lempert to be Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; and Mr. Roger F. Nyhus to be Ambassador to Barbados and to serve concurrently and without additional compensation as Ambassador to the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We are facing growing instability and competition around the world. That’s why our diplomatic engagement, our cooperation with allies and partners, and our efforts to counter the coercive policies of authoritarian states are more critical than ever for U.S. national security,” Chairman Menendez said. “Despite this, we see House Republicans hurdling towards debt default. Their plan would not only undermine the United States’ ability to compete with China, but by cutting funding for the State Department, USAID, and other agencies on the front lines, it would undermine our ability to protect and advance U.S. foreign policy.”
Find a copy of the Chairman’s remarks as delivered below.
“This hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will come to order.
Let me congratulate all of the nominees before us today. We welcome your family members and friends, who are also part of the sacrifice of serving.
Whether in the Western Hemisphere or the Middle East, your service will come at a challenging time for the United States.
We are facing growing instability and competition around the world.
That’s why our diplomatic engagement, our cooperation with allies and partners, and our efforts to counter the coercive policies of authoritarian states are more critical than ever for U.S. national security.
Despite this, we see House Republicans hurdling towards debt default.
Their plan would not only undermine the United States’ ability to compete with China, but by cutting funding for the State Department, USAID, and other agencies on the front lines, it would undermine our ability to protect and advance U.S. foreign policy.
I hope today’s nominees will not take this lack of commitment to advancing American interests on the part of those who view that as the appropriate path as a reflection of our Committee’s respect for the work you do all over the world.
Indeed, the posts today’s nominees must fill are critical and I want to thank each of you—and your families—for your willingness to serve our country.
Mr. Brown, Ecuador is experiencing political turbulence that has implications for democracy in the Americas.
President Lasso is a close partner of the United States as you can get. President Biden received him at the White House in December.
That same week, Congress passed my U.S.-Ecuador Partnership Act to deepen cooperation between our two countries.
The United States must always stand with democratic leaders who share our values and work to improve the quality of life for their citizens.
We need an Ambassador that will work with President Lasso to confront organized crime and drug trafficking, to support his efforts to address climate change and protect Ecuador’s environment for all of its citizens, and support our governments and our private sectors to work together to promote inclusive economic growth for both nations. We look forward to hearing from you on this.
Ms. Syptak-Ramnath, if confirmed, you will be taking over the U.S. Embassy in Lima as the country has been rocked by protests that have left more than fifty people dead.
In December, Peru faced a significant political crisis, when former President Castillo resorted to unconstitutional measures in an illegal attempt to dissolve Peru’s Congress.
President Castillo was legally removed from office, but political tensions remain.
I look forward to hearing from you about how the United States can best engage diplomatically in this context, and how you will work to strengthen the principles shared by our countries, as well as address the mutual concerns of our citizens.
Mr. Nyhus, the assignment to Bridgetown is incredibly important.
You would not only serve as our representative to Barbados, but also as our ambassador to Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
At a time of growing geopolitical competition, it is incredibly important that we double down on our relationships with our closest democratic partners, including our neighbors in the Caribbean.
We must continue to advance our relationship based on our shared values, economic ties, and the bonds between our peoples.
I am looking forward to hearing about how the United States can further strengthen our relationship with the Government of Barbados and Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who is a global leader on climate change and the environment.
This is an incredibly important assignment because of the breadth and scope of each of these countries.
Ms. Lempert, I am pleased to see you are the President’s nominee to be our Ambassador to Jordan, a long-standing, strategic U.S. partner in the region.
As someone who has spent her entire public service career working on issues facing the Middle East for both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Whether it was your leadership as the key U.S. negotiator of the 10-year Memorandum of Understanding between the United States and Israel, securing the largest package of assistance in the history of our bilateral relationship, or your work to build on the historic Abraham Accords as the Administration’s point person on the Negev framework, your experiences will serve you well leading our Embassy in Amman.
I am lifelong advocate for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and I know you are as well, and I look forward to your leadership as we build even stronger relationships between Israel and her neighbors, including Jordan.
In closing, I must note that there is one nominee not on this panel that I hope we can get to at some point. A couple of our colleagues have consistently come up to me. That is Ambassador Jean Manes for Colombia.
Ambassador Manes is a consummate diplomat and professional. It has been nearly a year since our former ambassador departed Bogotá.
The U.S.-Colombia relationship is too important not to have a confirmed ambassador.
I want to note that the Committee has received letters of support for Ambassador Manes from the former SOUTHCOM Commander Craig Faller, former Assistant Secretary Roger Noriega, and former U.S. Ambassadors to Colombia Anne Patterson and Kevin Whitaker. I ask unanimous consent that they be included in the record. Without objection, so ordered.
Hopefully we can get to her at some point.
Remarks have been edited lightly for clarity.