WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today made the following statement at a hearing to consider the nomination of Mike Pompeo to serve as Secretary of State.
“Director Pompeo, we welcome you here today, and we thank you for your willingness to serve our country, yet again, this time in the role of Secretary of State.
“We are also glad that your family is here with you, and we extend our thanks to them for the sacrifices that your service requires of them.
“You have been nominated by the president at a very important time in our nation’s history.
“Our country’s standing in the world has been on the decline over the past decade or more, and that certainly continues.
“Throughout the 20th century, our allies viewed the United States as a reliable partner and a source of stability – a friend whose ideals and leadership made our world a better place.
“Unfortunately, today, we are not counted on as we once were.
“The chasm between what our leaders say and the actions that they take can have a devastating impact.
“I think about where Syria would be today had we done what we said in 2013 when the opposition posed a significant threat to the regime. Assad crossed the red line, used chemical weapons, and we did nothing. The loss of momentum was palpable.
“Our inconsistencies have created vacuums that are being eagerly filled by those who do not share our values.
“When the leader of our country speaks with the full might of the most powerful military the world has ever known behind him, he must choose his words carefully.
“His words and actions have global ramifications and send a signal to both our foes and allies regarding our level of commitment to longstanding alliances, our desire for beneficial trade relationships, and our very belief in the ideals we claim to embody.
“But while, at times, the president may act or speak impulsively, we have seen that good counsel has led the president to evolve – from my perspective to a much better place – on a number of important issues.
“I believe the next Secretary of State must continue to provide such counsel, even when it is difficult.
“If confirmed, you must continue to provide advice to the president that allows him to view a given situation holistically and not make decisions that focus on the impact to one domestic group or foreign government.
“Any president has numerous voices from both inside and outside the White House vying for his attention.
“An effective Secretary of State must be able to prioritize the issues for the president and attempt to drown out the noise and chaos that can so often distract and bog down the leader of the free world from making sound and informed decisions.
“I know that you have developed a close relationship with the president, and I believe that relationship could well serve you if you are confirmed as Secretary of State.
“However, many strong voices have been terminated or resigned. That’s why I think it’s fair for our members to ask whether your relationship is rooted in a candid, healthy, give-and-take dynamic, or whether it’s based on a deferential willingness to go along to get along.
“Americans often think of the Secretary of State solely in his or her capacity as our chief diplomat – racing around the world to broker compromise, prevent war, or negotiate treaties.
“And no doubt, your success as a diplomat – as you well know – is key to keeping our men and women in uniform that we treasure so much out of harm’s way.
“While all of that is true, this position also requires the person occupying the office to be every bit a manager as a diplomatic envoy.
“The secretary must effectively manage a multi-billion dollar budget and a workforce of tens of thousands. This is the part of the job that isn’t as flashy and doesn’t usually get as much media attention, but it is just as important as any other aspect of the secretary’s duties.
“In order to execute foreign policy effectively, the secretary must have a fully functional department behind him.
“During your tenure at the CIA, you demonstrated that you understand the need for having a functioning workforce.
“I am hopeful that, if confirmed, you will make it a priority to fill those key positions and work to earn the trust of the career public servants in both the department’s foreign and civil service.
“Not only will the next Secretary of State have to adapt to a unique decision making process and have significant management issues to tackle, but there are also numerous crucial policy issues around the world that must be addressed.
“While the obstacles we face are daunting, they are by no means insurmountable.
“The history of American foreign policy is filled with secretaries of state who changed the world for the better in the face of adversity.
“In fact, those who have gone down in history as ‘great’ are those who dealt with the greatest challenges. When faced with what seemed like impossible odds, they rose to the occasion.
“That is what – when we are at our best – we do as Americans, and it is my hope that you will do the same if confirmed.
“Examining a nominee to be Secretary of State is one of the most solemn duties of this committee. You will be asked many questions about the policy issues facing our nation and your vision for the Department of State.
“Thank you again for your willingness to serve, and I look forward to your testimony and answers.”
Click here for complete testimony and live video footage of the hearing.