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Corker Opening Statement at Hearing on Nominations

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 

Hearing: Nominations 

September 12, 2017

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman

Opening Statement

The position [of under Secretary for management] that Senator Enzi was just mentioning is vitally important to the functioning of the [State] Department, as he stated. 

Fourteen bureaus and offices report to the under secretary for management, including diplomatic security, consular affairs, and overseas building operations.

The under secretary is responsible for the allocation of State Department positions, funds, and any other resources required to implement the foreign policies of the United States.

In addition to making the trains run on time at the department, the under secretary has the critical task of securing our people and facilities abroad.

This is never an easy undertaking, but it is particularly challenging now given the complexity of our current threat environment.

The department is also in the middle of an extensive reorganization process, which will require heavy involvement and deft leadership from the under secretary.

This committee has been concerned by some of the department’s recent management challenges and has tried to play a constructive role in making the department more efficient and effective through our State Department authorization bill.

I hope our nominee shares our goal of a stronger and more agile State Department, and I look forward to your cooperation on the authorization bill should you be confirmed.

On the next panel of nominees, we have the Honorable John Bass to be Ambassador to Afghanistan, Mr. Justin Siberell to be Ambassador to Bahrain, and Mr. Steven Dowd to be U.S. Director of the African Development Bank.

A more concerted effort is planned by the administration to address U.S. interests in Afghanistan through a more focused—and firm—diplomacy with Afghanistan’s neighbors and others.

Our embassy country team in Kabul must be properly prepared, equipped, and led to make the most of this new U.S. effort to create better outcomes that serve our national security interests.

I believe Ambassador Bass has that experience, and I look forward to hearing how he plans to utilize our resources to meet the president’s expectations.

Bahrain is an important ally of the United States in the Middle East and hosts a critical military base for our forces in the region. 

Sadly, the country is also facing unrest among its majority Shia population against the Sunni-led monarchy, resulting in a government crackdown of its dissidents. 

I look forward to hearing from Mr. Siberell about his goals and vision for U.S. engagement in Bahrain in this complicated political environment. 

The African Development Bank provides resources to developing countries that, if utilized properly, present opportunities to help those countries grow their economies, improve their standards of living, which ultimately serves our U.S. interests.

If confirmed as the U.S. Director at the African Development Bank, Mr. Dowd would play an important role in representing United States interests at an operational level, helping to ensure money is spent wisely and protecting our investments.

With that, I would like to recognize our distinguished ranking member for his comments, Senator Cardin.