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SFRC Chairman Menendez Remarks at Committee Nominations Hearing

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today delivered the following remarks at this morning’s nominations hearing. Before the committee were Chairman Menendez’s long-time Senior Advisor and Counselor, Mr. Rolfe Michael Schiffer, nominated to serve as an Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; Mr. Nathaniel Fick to be Ambassador at Large for Cyberspace and Digital Policy; Ms. Rachna Sachdeva Korhonen to be U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Mali; the Honorable Lucy Tamlyn to be Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo; and Ms. Jessica Davis Ba to be U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Cote D’Ivoire.

“Let me thank you Mr. Chairman and the Ranking Member for presiding over this nominations hearing. One of the most important things we do as members of the Committee is oversee nominations. We need the help of all of our colleagues in getting through the nominations. I appreciate both you and the Ranking Member for doing this. Thank you for the courtesy for being able to go.

Congratulations to the nominees before us today. We thank you and all of your families for your service to our country.

Let me take a few minutes of personal privilege to speak about Michael Schiffer, who has been my long-time Senior Advisor and Counselor on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He is one of the leading foreign policy minds in Washington, having also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia. He is a respected expert on Asia with a network of relationships across the continent. I never forgot … when I was on the Committee in 2006 and started going with Michael to visit Asia. It would be very interesting to me when heads of state – including when I was Chairman of the Committee previously – would say ‘hello Mr. Schiffer’ before they would say hello to me. It shows the depth of the relationships he has.

I have long relied on Michael’s counsel, expertise, and judgement in dealing with some of the most vexing issues facing the Committee.

No one is more qualified or more deserving of this nomination than he is.

He is dedicated and committed to values-based foreign policy that champions freedom, human rights and democracy. He will be a strong advocate for those principles across the continent, and will work to ensure that USAID programming reflects our values and our interests.

And he is someone who doesn’t hesitate to speak his mind.

Stories abound about his willingness to speak truth to power abound. Don’t worry, Michael, I won’t share them here today. But it is an important quality that will serve him well in the executive branch as he ensures that USAID has a seat at the table and a voice in the interagency process.

It is precisely that kind of leadership that we need in the Administration today. Someone who knows the right approach on assistance to Asia and how to get it there.

I appreciate all of those great assets. I will not continue with my remarks because then my time will be eaten up for questions, so I will include them in the record.

Michael thank you for your excellent work with us.” 

*These delivered remarks were lightly edited for clarity purposes.