January 31, 2022

Risch: One Year In, Biden Has Yet to Provide Nominees for Critical Global Posts

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to President Biden earlier this month expressing his concern regarding a lack of U.S. nominations to numerous key positions around the world while the United States faces a myriad of national security challenges. Risch also published an op-ed on this topic in Foreign Policy last week – it can be read here.

“The United States faces a myriad of national security challenges… In the face of these threats, the United States must be actively engaged with partners and allies around the world, and we must confront unjustified aggression and other malign influence through robust diplomatic efforts,” wrote Risch. “Yet, today, there are many critical ambassadorial positions without a nominee, such as: Ukraine, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Sudan, the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, Haiti, and Saudi Arabia, to name several.”

Since Risch sent the letter to the White House, President Biden has formally announced ambassadorial nominees for the United Kingdom and Brazil.

“Despite persistent narratives to the contrary, the committee has not had the level of obstruction like it has had in the past,” Risch continued. “This past year we have moved a greater number of nominees through committee (104 Biden nominations vs. 86 Trump nominations) and at a faster rate (by 20 days on average). These statistics show a commitment to processing nominations while ensuring due diligence required by our constitutional advise and consent mandate.  However, we cannot vet and process nominations without nominees.”

“Nowhere is the threat to peace and security more immediately acute than in Eastern Europe. Ukraine is among the most urgent posts requiring leadership. Russia is executing its second military build-up on Ukraine’s border in the past year, with the threat of further aggression. At the same time, we lack a presidentially-nominated ambassador that is continually engaged with Kyiv to help manage the situation, strengthen the U.S.-Ukrainian relationship, and engage with his or her counterparts to address the risk of war,” Risch concluded. “Had an ambassador been in place sooner, the situation on the ground could have been quite different than the crisis before us today.”

Full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear President Biden:

I write to express my concern regarding a lack of nominations to numerous key positions around the world.  The United States faces a myriad of national security challenges.  Strategic competitors such as China and Russia continue to threaten the world order as we know it.  In other parts of the globe, endemic corruption and oppression increase the potential for conflict.  In the face of these threats, the United States must be actively engaged with partners and allies around the world, and we must confront unjustified aggression and other malign influence through robust diplomatic efforts.

Yet, today, there are many critical ambassadorial positions without a nominee, such as: Ukraine, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Sudan, the Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, Haiti, and Saudi Arabia, to name several.

Your senior White House and State Department officials have repeatedly told me and my fellow members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that our challenges abroad require us to have Senate-confirmed leadership in place.  I agree.  That is why I am deeply troubled that – after nearly a year in office – you have yet to nominate candidates for certain critical posts around the world.

Despite persistent narratives to the contrary, the committee has not had the level of obstruction like it has had in the past.  This past year we have moved a greater number of nominees through committee (104 Biden nominations vs. 86 Trump nominations) and at a faster rate (by 20 days on average).  These statistics show a commitment to processing nominations while ensuring due diligence required by our constitutional advise and consent mandate.  However, we cannot vet and process nominations without nominees.

Nowhere is the threat to peace and security more immediately acute than in Eastern Europe.  Ukraine is among the most urgent posts requiring leadership.  Russia is executing its second military build-up on Ukraine’s border in the past year, with the threat of further aggression.  At the same time, we lack a presidentially-nominated ambassador that is continually engaged with Kyiv to help manage the situation, strengthen the U.S.-Ukrainian relationship, and engage with his or her counterparts to address the risk of war.  Had an ambassador been in place sooner, the situation on the ground could have been quite different than the crisis before us today.

I urge you to nominate strong, qualified individuals to fill these critical posts quickly.  The security environment our nation faces today demands it.  Thank you for your attention to this matter, and I look forward to engagement from you and your nominations team in the near future.

Sincerely,  

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