January 26, 2021

Menendez Remarks Ahead of Vote Confirming Antony Blinken as Secretary of State

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)incoming Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, spoke on the Senate Floor ahead of today’s confirmation vote for Antony Blinken to serve as Secretary of State.

“I strongly support Mr. Blinken’s nomination today because he is the right person for the job and because we cannot afford to leave this post vacant any longer,” Senator Menendez said. “Mr. Blinken must be confirmed so we can start addressing the challenges we face abroad. Every day there is an event or calamity across the globe, and whether it is a massacre in Ethiopia or democratic protests in Russia, we need U.S. leadership and engagement to chart our foreign policy through these troubling times.”

Find a copy of Senator Menendez’s remarks as delivered below:

“I rise today in support of Tony Blinken’s nomination to be Secretary of State. I want to thank Senator Risch for working with me expeditiously to get this nomination to the floor. And I appreciate his work in common cause to achieve it.

We all know Mr. Blinken has impressive credentials – he was confirmed by the Senate as Deputy Secretary of State, and before that, served as the Deputy National Security Advisor and as the Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But, apart from his extensive experience, he showed, in almost 5 hours of hearing testimony, that he is thoughtful, willing, able to grapple with the most complex, challenging issues facing our country, and committed to engaging Congress. And he did so on both sides of the aisle. Not surprisingly, the Foreign Relations Committee reported him out by an overwhelming bipartisan vote.

Now, Mr. President, some in this body may not be aware of Mr. Blinken’s family tradition, which reflects the best of this country in two ways: our history of welcoming those in need of refuge, and the contributions that immigrants and refugees have made in the service of our Nation.

Mr. Blinken’s family came here fleeing persecution. His grandfather, Maurice Blinken, fled Russian pogroms. His father’s wife, Vera Blinken, fled communist Hungary. And his late step-father, Samuel Pisar, survived Nazi concentration camps and met the first U.S. soldiers he saw with the only English words he knew – God bless America. And from that family, our country has benefitted from the service of two ambassadors, an Assistant Secretary and a Deputy Secretary of State. What a testament to the power of the American dream.   

Mr. Blinken must be confirmed so we can start addressing the challenges we face abroad. Every day there is an event or calamity across the globe, and whether it is a massacre in Ethiopia or democratic protests in Russia, we need U.S. leadership and engagement to chart our foreign policy through these troubling times. We now have a COVID vaccine, but troubling new variants and strains are appearing in the United Kingdom and South Africa. We need a confirmed Secretary of State and a robust State Department to revitalize the traditional U.S. role as a leader on global health issues. This is just one of the many things we have to do to help bring this pandemic to an end, both in this country and abroad.

It is also important that Mr. Blinken be confirmed to help address the challenges we face closer to home. The State Department is suffering from a historic crisis stemming from low morale, the departure over the past four years of many of our most experienced diplomats, and the lack of accountability for the political leadership at the top during the last four years. Mr. Blinken’s experience and expertise is necessary to begin to repair the damage and rebuild the State Department.

Moreover, the office of the Secretary of State is fourth in the presidential line of succession and is one of the most important national security positions in the government. To paraphrase former Secretary of Defense James Mattis, if we do not support diplomacy, our armed forces will ultimately need more ammunition. He was right. Robust diplomacy means that we are less likely to have to send our sons and daughters to fight wars, and it means more opportunities for Americans and American businesses abroad. I strongly support Mr. Blinken’s nomination today because he is the right person for the job and because we cannot afford to leave this post vacant any longer. I hope that all of my colleagues will all join me.

Mr. President, with that, I yield the floor.”

 

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