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tv   Senators Examine State Dept. Mission Policies  CSPAN  December 7, 2021 6:13pm-7:41pm EST

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>> season 1 focuses on the presidency of lyndon johnson. you'll hear about the 1964 civil rights act, the 1964 presidential campaign, the gulf of tonkin incident, the march on selma, and the war in vietnam. not everyone knew they were being recorded. >> certainly johnson's secretaries knew because they were tasked with transcribing many of those conversations. in fact, they were the ones who made sure that the conversations were taped as johnson would signal to them through an open door between his office and theirs. >> you'll also hear some blunt talk. >> jim. >> yes, sir. >> i want a report of the number of people assigned to kennedy on me the day he died, the number assigned to me now, and if mine are not less, i want them less right quick. >> yes, sir. >> and if i can't ever go to the bathroom, i won't go. i promise you i won't go anywhere. i'll stay right behind these black gates. >> presidential recordings. find it on the c-span now mobile
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app or wherever you get your podcasts. deputy secretary of state for management and resources brian mckeon testified before the senate foreign relations committee on the agent's mission and policies.
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this hearing of the senate foreign relations committee will come to order. mr. secretary, thank you for joining us today as this committee continues to seek to restore its position of conducting robust oversight. we greatly appreciate your willingness, like that of secretary blinken, to come before us for hearings, and that's refreshing. let me also acknowledge that you and secretary blinken inherited a damaged and depleted state department. as i documented in a committee report last year, diplomacy in crisis, the last administration's repeated assault on state department personnel, management, and resources were, in my view, unconscionable and dangerous for long-term u.s. foreign policy interests. when you assumed your position, morale was at its lowest. key bureaus had been gutted.
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the institutional, budgetary and morale problems of the department are the results of many years, multiple administrations, and yes, congressional action and inaction as well. i think there is now broad and bipartisan consensus that we have reached a crisis point and there is a bipartisan desire to address the core structural and resource issues that have too long plagued the department. with the department being led by people such as yourself, who have dedicated so much of their careers to government service, i have been hoping to see a necessary effort to undertake a systematic reform and modernization effort. so today i look forward to hearing specifics. what is your thinking about reforming and modernizing the department? where do you see opportunities to ensure that resources are aligned with the department's missions? what are you doing to address the morale crisis and stem the loss of talented foreign service and civil service officers? as the administration continues to de-emphasize our military presence around the world, where
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is the necessary diplomatic counterweight. there are a number of other specific issues i hope you'll address today. first i hope you'll address the state's role in the afghanistan evacuation. there's no doubt that the department personnel performed heroically but arguably had the department been better positioned and structured to get ahead of some of the issues, particularly processing afghan sivs, p 1s and p 2s, the heroism wouldn't have been necessary. much like in the early days of the covid pandemic when tens of thousands of american citizens were stranded around the world while state department personnel ultimately performed herculean tasks to launch a successful repatriation effort, it took weeks of heavy lifting and congressional pressure and suggests the department needs to fundamentally alter institutional structures to deal with emergency contingencies, planning, and operations. i'd also like to hear your plans to address a long-standing priority of mine, significantly
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expanding diversity at the department, including long overdue improvements in recruitment and retention. study after study has shown that a more diverse workforce leads to better decisions and outcomes for institutions, and it is essential for the state department as an institution that represents our country to the world that we represent our values as a nation in celebrating all americans. i'd also like to hear your thinking about how the united states can best position ourselves to counter china in the conduct of diplomacy around the globe. china now has more diplomats, more missions, more concerted public diplomacy and more money for its diplomacy than we do. in parts of africa and latin america, we are being badly outlapped. in the holdup of confirming ambassadors by this body is also certainly hampering u.s. foreign policy objectives to be competitive with china. i also hope you'll address staffing and resource shortages
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that hamper our diplomacy. for example, a recent state department inspector general report found that the africa bureau has faced persistent staffing shortages and that the department has not appropriately prioritized the bureau's needs. critical posts such as our embassy in niger lacked a political and economic officer for months. and i look forward to hearing about the department's plans to create a new bureau of cyberspace and digital policy and a special envoy for critical and emerging technology. as you well know, we're facing a new era of international cooperation and competition on cyber and technology issues. real, systematic change in how the united states responds to digital innovation will require swift institutional adaptation, and i believe these new structures are the right first steps. finally, i'd like to hear from you on the department's response to the so-called anomalous
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health incidents or what some of us call havana syndrome. for years the department did not take this seriously, stigmatizing those who reported incidents and failed to get those affected prompt treatment. i appreciate that you and the secretary have prioritized this issue, and i know you're committed to protecting our personnel. but the department's response continues to fall short of what we owe our personnel and their families, and we look forward to hearing specifics. it's a broad agenda, but that's the nature of the undertaking that you have. with that, mr. secretary, let me turn things over to the ranking member for his statement. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you secretary mckeon for being here today. it's been nearly 20 years since congress passed an authorization for the state department. over that time, the department's need for reform of its operations and management has grown enormously. as such, i've spent the past 2 1/2 years working with the chairman on a much needed state department authorization bill,
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partly on my watch and partly on his watch. we have not been successful to date obviously. if we want to exercise full oversight of the state department, which is the charge of this committee, we must regularly and consistently authorize the state department. if we don't, we will get more of the same with the state department choosing when and how it will listen to this committee. as the chairman knows and i experienced during last congress, getting the state department to do the basics, provide witnesses for hearings, feedback on legislation, and updates before issues hit the news is extremely difficult without authorizing bills. i look forward to working with the chairman and you, mr. mckeon, on getting a state department authorization across the finish line this congress. since today's hearing is also about the state of the state department, we must address the department's role in the hazardous withdrawal from afghanistan. despite the administration's efforts to put afghanistan in the rearview mirror, it remains a pressing national security
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concern for the senate and for the american people. it's been over a month since secretary blinken appears before this committee, and we have yet to receive the secretary's responses to our questions for the record that the were propounded at that time. this is an unacceptable delay, and we expect better responsiveness from the department, which they've always promised but have never executed on. on the issue of continued evacuations, in september, secretary blinken assured us that there were just 100 americans remaining in afghanistan that wished to depart -- 100. just last week, however, the team responsible for continued evacuations of americans told us that they were working on over 170 americans who wished to depart, for more than 360 americans who remain there. and the list is growing. i want to make note and ask us to enter into the record aggregate data my staff has collected from 25 senate offices about the botched evacuations. it should be noted that this is
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a snapshot, just one quarter of the senate's work to get people out. we know that 16,688 cases were referred to the state department during and immediately after the neo. we only know of 110 individuals of this 16,000 who were successfully evacuated out of afghanistan to the u.s. or to a third country. i've been working on one flight with several u.s. citizens with over 100 minors on that flight. i'm also curious about the state of embassy kabul's workforce, particularly the fate of our locally employed staff. we owe a great debt to the afghans who assisted our diplomatic efforts in afghanistan for 20 years, and it's shameful that they were not all evacuated before the administration's arbitrary withdrawal. i look forward to hearing more
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details on establishing predictable mechanisms for the continued departure of americans and the afghans who assisted us in our mission there. last thursday, i along with armed services committee ranking member inhofe sent a letter to the inspector generals of state, dod, requesting a joint audit on the botched evacuation and the failure to deliver on the special immigrant visa program. as i mentioned at secretary blinken's hearing, the department of defense has a lot to answer for on sivs as well. the bungled afghanistan evacuation was a failure not only of the interagency but also of leadership at the top. we will not accept separate audits from each agency just pointing fingers at the others. we've seen a dramatic uptick in terrorist activity in afghanistan, demonstrating the taliban lacks the will and capability to prevent terrorists from using afghanistan as a safe haven or, for that matter, even
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governing in the most basic sense. coordination with afghanistan's neighbors to address terror threats is critical, and i look forward to hearing an update from you today. i'm not surprised, but i'm disappointed to hear that the taliban is blocking women and girls from the workplace and higher education. yet the department has signaled the intent to restart non-humanitarian assistance to afghanistan without securing concessions from the taliban on these important issues. i have no doubts you're going to face some strenuous questions on that particular issue from this committee and others. any further expansion of long-term assistance to afghanistan requires a discussion with congress. finally, i and 29 of my colleagues introduced the afghan terrorism oversight accountability act. i've asked the chairman we mark up this important bill soon. mr. mckeon, i look forward to working with you on that matter. >> thank you, senator risch.
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with that, mr. secretary, the floor is yours. we'd ask you to summarize your statement in five minutes or so and your full statement will be included in the record without objection. mr. secretary. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, ranking member risch, members of the committee. i appreciate you having me here today. this is the first time i've appeared before you since i was confirmed in march, so i'm happy to be back here to report on many of the issues that you've raised in your opening statements. i know there is significant support on this committee for the department's mission and its personnel, and i welcome the discussion of our authorization priorities and your priorities and hope to build on the work that you have started. i first want to take a moment to recognize the state department's remarkable public servants. it would be hard to overstate the unique challenges faced by our global workforce, especially during a lengthy global pandemic. their resilience embodies the true spirit of public service.
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i also want to speak to the department's work since i came before you in march, including the steps taken to address some of the issues that you raised then. in may, the president submitted his budget request for fiscal year 2022. he requested a 10% increase for the state department and usaid, which included the largest personnel increase for the state department in a decade. it's a budget that reflects the importance of investing in our people and our technology, and we appreciate the support for these priorities in the congress to date. president biden has been clear from his first day in office about his commitment to put diplomacy at the center of our foreign policy. the president's first visit to a major cabinet department was to the state department. an intentional signal of the importance -- it's on, yeah. the importance he places on diplomacy. secretary blinken is equally committed to this objective. today at the foreign service institute later this morning,
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the secretary will publicly outline the department's modernization agenda, which has five pillars, and i believe he came to speak to you, mr. chairman, and senator risch, yesterday about some of these issues. first, building the department's capacity and expertise in areas critical to our national security, including cyber and emerging tech, climate, and global health. second, elevating new voices and fostering a climate of initiative and innovation within the department. third, we are determined to compete for talent and to build and retain a diverse, dynamic, and entrepreneurial workforce. the secretary has appointed the department's first ever chief diversity and inclusion officer. we are addressing a number of issues that make it challenging for officers to serve, from family member employment to assignment restrictions to the challenges that lgbtq+ and employees of color face serving overseas. fourth, we are working to modernize our technology, our
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communications, and our analytical capabilities. the final pillar of focus is on our overseas engagement to ensure our diplomats can conduct in-person diplomacy that's essential to advancing foreign policy goals. this gets at the issue of risk management. pursuant to the president's national security memorandum 3, which issued in february, an initiative that he undertook to revitalize our nation's foreign policy and the national security workforce, we've already taken steps to make systemic improvements in the way we recruit and retain employees. on recruitment, we've established a volunteer recruiter corps with 500 foreign and civil service employees who will assist our efforts to recruit a diverse workforce. we've also requested funds and authorization for a paid student internship program. on retention, we've broadened access to child care. we're enhancing telework opportunities. we're expanding eligibility for the student loan repayment program. and we are reviewing our performance management systems.
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on advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, we launched the department's first deia leadership counsel, and as noted, the first chief diversity officer. we've also sought to advance diversity in our senior appointments. there's a lot of other work going on that i can speak to during the q&a. we've made considerable progress, but there's a lot of work ahead. we have reduced the lengthy hiring timeline and made security clearance processing more efficient, but we need to do better. our passport processing during the peak summer travel season was inadequate. i'm not going to try to gloss over it. we've surged resources in recent months that have measurably reduced waiting times. finally i want to thank the committee for the large number of nominees, over 40, who have had their hearings in the last two months. we still have 80 nominees pending before the senate, many of them on the executive calendar. as i understand it, most of the confirmations are delayed due to unrelated policy disagreements. the development and execution of
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our national security policy depends on having senior leaders in place in our embassies and in washington. in the first nine months of the biden/harris administration, only five ambassadors to countries have been confirmed, just four of them yesterday. our security and interests are substantially undermined because so many of our senior leadership roles are not occupied by senate confirmed officials. while we can do more as an administration to improve our part of the process, the level of delay and obstruction we have faced is unprecedented, and i speak with knowledge of working here for 20 years. i urge the senate to act on these nominations with all haste. with that, i look forward to your questions, sir. >> all right. we'll start a round with five-minute questions. so i heard what you say in broad outlines, but what would be your top three priorities for assuring that the department has the organization, the tools, and
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the resources it needs to meet its mission? >> well, the first priority, sir, is getting adequate funding and, as i said, we're very appreciative of where we stand in the appropriations process to date. senator coons being the new chairman of the subcommittee on appropriations. second, investing in our workforce to try to build a workforce to face the challenges of the next several decades at a strategic level but also, as i mentioned, retention is a real concern. our attrition numbers are not as high as you might think, but anecdotally and some surveys, there's suggestion that a significant number of employees are thinking about leaving. so that's the canary in the coal mine that we have to worry about. so we have to address a lot of the pain points that make it hard to serve and that undermine morale. and so we won't hit a lot of home runs, but we're trying to
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hit a lot of singles that add up to something to make their lives better. and then within the organization, you know, we need to empower people because it's a big organization with a global workforce. and there's been a tendency over the years -- and i've been part of it in prior administrations -- to try to manage everything with an 8,000-mile screwdriver overseas. so we have to empower workforce at our missions but also in washington to generate creative ideas and fully utilize our workforce. so that's a cultural shift. that's nothing that we can do with resources, and it's going to take all of the leadership believing in it and having the back of our employees. >> speaking about the staffing questions, something i have been at for 25 years between the house and the senate is the diversity in the foreign and civil service, particularly in
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the state department has one of the worst records of any of the federal departments. it's not only one of the best ways of representing the united states and our values abroad, it's also, i believe, a national security imperative. so how are you working currently, and how do you intend in the future to hire, retain, and promote a diverse foreign and civil service? i hope you're looking at -- when i have looked into this issue in the past, the oral exam has always been a somewhat amorphous process to me in terms of who can communicate well orally and who cannot. and then of course the review panel seems to be certain types of people. so that's one of the elements. and we always hear about recruitment. well, you have to recruit at
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diverse places to get a diverse workforce. there are some great institutions that are known for their foreign service and policy education, but they don't necessarily provide the most diverse student body as a way to recruit. so can you talk to me a little bit about this? >> i'm happy to, senator. it's probably worth a longer conversation separately, which we're happy to do. so as i mentioned, we have the chief diversity officer, gina abercrombie, and it's not just an officer, it's an office we're staffing with ultimately about a dozen people, including people who understand data analysis. and one of her primary tasks that she wants to undertake is really getting at the data so we understand what the workforce looks like and what the promotion statistics look like, and then understanding what are the barriers to advancement within these -- within these services. she sits on some of the key
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personnel committees. we have what's called the deputies committee that recommends career officers for ambassador positions. she also sits on the committee that selects deputy chiefs of mission and principal officers. she has put out guidance to bureaus on more transparent and objective approaches to hiring. she's putting together a broad diversity and inclusion strategic plan. across the department, every bureau now typically has somebody who's assigned to this task, and we've got a department-wide diversity council that the secretary chairs. on the recruitment issue, i have to tell you i just looked at the statistics of people who are taking the exam, and it's not a very good picture. both the gender parity is not there. the ratio between men and women taking the exam is 2 to 1, and underrepresented communities are not signing up to take the exam. our human resources bureau has done some analysis on both why
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women aren't signing up to take the test and why african americans in particular are not doing very well on the test. and so that will guide our thinking on how we try to strengthen our recruitment. one of our programs for diversifying the pipeline, the rangel and pickering fellowships, and we've increased those by 50% and will sustain that. but there's a lot of different things we need to work on, and we can't flip a switch and improve it, but we know that if we leave in a few years, the secretary and i, and we have not made material progress, we will have failed. >> i appreciate all the statistical information, and for 25 years, i've been accruing statistical information and making the case that we are not having a diverse workforce. that information, i think, is very well situated already to know what the reality is. the question becomes, as i said to the secretary yesterday,
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change starts at the top. and if the top -- and you as the secretary in charge of management -- if you make it clear to all of those underneath you that part of their performance review is how well they've worked to bring people -- a diverse group of individuals into their respective departments, then that message will get out there. so i hope that the leadership is pursuing a very clear message of how we are going to make judgments, in part, about how promotions and other opportunities exist because but for that, we will talk, as we have for 25 years, about the statistics, and we'll be at the same place. so this is not new to this -- this is not an issue of this administration, but it is an ongoing issue, and i would hope
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that this is the administration that begins to create change at the end of the day. >> i know your over time, sir. if i could say a couple things on this. one, the foreign service promotion system guides promotion with something they call the promotion precepts. those get revised every few years, and we're working on the revision right now. it's a significant change in the way that we do it, and we're looking at a specific precept on diversity and inclusion, which would be, i think, a game-changer. >> well, we look forward to working with you on this. let me turn to senator risch. we'll have a further discussion. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. mckeon, one of the things that's really troubling to us is we understand that the state department's indicated, perhaps decided already that they're going to restart non-humanitarian assistance to the afghans. now, set aside humanitarian
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assistance. we're already seeing a lot of pictures of starvation and what have you, and they say the winter is going to be particularly bad. but i want to talk about non-humanitarian assistance. what are we talking about here? what's the state department doing? what do you plan to do? >> so, senator risch, we've done a review within the department and with usaid on all of our assistance programs that were in the pipeline with afghanistan and created what we call a stoplight chart, a category of green, a category of yellow, and a category of red, the red being bilateral programs directly with the afghan government that we're not able to continue. the yellow ones we're taking a look at for further review, but none have been approved to move forward. and then the green are programs that are in several respects similar to humanitarian assistance. some of the things -- and we can get you a longer list -- >> give us some examples of that. >> sheltering vulnerable women.
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basic education. water and sanitation. health. they're humanitarian like, baugh they've been considered in the economic assistance basket if you will in our categorization. >> one of the things we're always concerned about when dealing with countries like afghanistan, how is this money going to be handled? if this gets in the hands of the taliban, i've got serious reservations whether it's going to go to taking care of women and girls to go to school and that sort of thing since we're hearing lots of stories about them shutting down schools and stopping women from the workforce, removing women judges from their positions. what are you doing about this? how are you handling this? >> so, senator, the aid is flowing through either non-governmental organizations or u.n. agencies that have long records of working in difficult contexts in the midst of civil wars, like in syria or the democratic republic of congo.
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so they have systems and ability to ensure that the assistance doesn't fall into the wrong hands. you gave us a statute in the continuing resolution, no funds shall go to the taliban. so we have a legal prohibition on that occurring and we'll have to be very mindful of it. and if we get reports money is being siphoned off, we'll just stop the flow of that program. >> can you give us any more specific examples of where this money is going and specifically how it's being kept out of the hands of the taliban? it's hard to conceive that money flows into the country and the taliban -- obviously they have a design to get their hands on it. how do you keep it out of their hands? >> on the humanitarian assistance side, when the types of sectors we're working in are food and nutrition assistance, the health sector, including covid-19 assistance, emergency shelter, and relief supplies, you know, we're working at the provincial and local district level.
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and the level of governance in the provinces is pretty mixed, so i'm not sure the taliban is omni present everywhere in controlling what's happening. but i'm happy to try to get you a more detailed briefing with the folks working on these issues directly. >> i would appreciate that. let's talk about the evacuations. how many americans are left in afghanistan as we sit here today? >> so the number we're currently tracking, senator -- and i know as you mentioned in your statement, it seems to be going up as we learn people who are there. the number we're tracking as of a couple of days ago, total is a little over 400. and we break that down into two categories because we're constantly communicating with them to see if they are ready to depart afghanistan. and the number of people who are ready to depart is around 225. and those they say they're not ready, about 100 -- a little
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south of 190. and these numbers change all the time. even somebody who told us last week they were ready to depart, if we called them today and say there's a flight in two days, can you get on, they say, oh, we're not ready this week. can we go next week? >> i appreciate that. i suspect that's the exception as opposed to the rule. when people say they're ready to go, i expect most of them are really, really ready to go. >> yes, you would think. but people have big extended families. they have roots in the country, and they're human beings. they change their minds. >> right. i get that. the number, like i said, as we surveyed the offices, we find about 16,000 cases that have been referred to your department, and i got to tell you, i have people that are personal friends that have been working on flights out of there, and they just aren't getting the help. they're being told -- the department's got every excuse there is as to why they can't get the people out, and these are people that helped every
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office, i think, in the senate got calls from veterans from over there and other people who have worked over there and said, look, here's a list. these people went the extra mile for us. they're going to die. their families are going to die if we don't get them out of there. and there just isn't anything happening. so i understand the leadership of that office has changed two or three times, but i'll tell you, as the person in charge of management, i would strenuously urge that you personally take a look at that and see if you can't move that on because i'm telling you, this is not a partisan issue by any stretch of the imagination. this is a bipartisan issue, and i know that my friends on the other side of the aisle are as frustrated as we are that we have left behind some pretty bad messes that we should have cleaned up and haven't yet. so i'd urge you to take a personal look at that. thank you, mr. chairman. i yield back. >> thank you, senator. i'm happy to speak to it if you
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give me a minute. mr. chairman, if you don't, i can catch up with senator risch later on this issue. >> can we hear from him? >> if you want to respond for a moment. >> i'll speak briefly. i've followed this pretty closely, senator risch, and meet with beth jones, who's the head of our team working on these issues now. the biggest obstacle right now to getting people out of afghanistan, is the taliban, which keeps changing its mind about what the rules are in permitting people to depart. but we're working first instance trying to get americans out and green cardholders, but also people who worked with us, including people who worked with the u.s. embassy, and trying to get some regular flow of people out of kabul and holding the taliban to their commitment to permit freedom to travel. some of the charter groups that i think you alluded to, many of them have been working on flights out of has ar al sharif, where we had a much harder time getting fidelity on the
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manifest. we've had issues of stowaways on the flights or flight crews coming into cat ar wanting to stay there and not go back. most of the flights out of the has ar want to come out of the base in qatar. we have an agreement with qatar, if these planes come, these people are likely coming to the united states. we're not going to leave them there in qatar, so we need to get a better fidelity on the manifest, and that's been a huge challenge. i'll give you one example. early on in this process, there was a flight being organized and we were told there were about 10 or 12 americans and about 200 afghans. we checked the passport records and validated there were 7 or 8 americans on the list. we called them and most of them were in the united states. they were not in afghanistan. so it's drilling down and really understanding who's getting on that flight because we have nobody on the ground in mazar because once they get to qatar, we own them. i understand the frustration. we've working very close will i with a consortium of veterans
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groups about this, but we're working it hard every day, i can tell you. >> thank you. senator shaheen. >> thank you, deputy secretary mckeon for being here this morning. and for your willingness to respond to our questions. i know you have offered to sit down with me on the havana syndrome attacks, also known as anomalous health incidents, but i would remiss if i didn't raise some of my concerns today at this hearing because i cannot to be disappointed by the state department's response even though i've heard from both you and secretary blinken that you are committed to ensuring that people who have been affected get the medical care they need. but what i'm still hearing from victims is that that is not happening always. so there's clearly a disconnect between what's happening at the top levels of the state department and how people are being treated in some cases.
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so let me ask you a couple of questions. first of all, ambassador spratland, who was designated at the department to be the point person on this, left in september. i think it's been about 40 days since she's been gone, and the secretary said that he was committed to ensuring that someone would replace her. so do you have any sense of when that is going to happen? and is there a protocol that is provided to all of our embassy personnel, all of our ambassadors, for how to treat reports of these kinds of attacks and get people medical care? >> yeah. thank you, senator. on ambassador spratland, she performed great service, and we were sorry to see her go. i expect the secretary to make an announcement about her replacement in the next day or two. in terms of protocols, so when
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an officer at post reports an incident, they are instructed to either report it to the medical unit or the diplomatic security office, regional security office. and both of those offices have a standard protocol. the rso has a questionnaire that the officer fills out, and then that's reported back to washington. and then the medical officer, whether it's a doctor or a nurse, has what's called a triage tool. similarly, it's a medical assessment of various things, but they're all being asked the same questions so we can try to have consistency in the data. and then if their symptoms are serious enough, some officers are medevaced. and back here in washington, we've recently organized a contract with johns hopkins university medical system to get people into care quickly if they need it there. i know there's been interest in getting folks in walter reed,
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but that's not typically a fast process, and the hopkins contract allows us to get people more immediate care. >> and i've had the opportunity to question a number of the ambassadorle nominees about this issue and whether they have been briefed by the state department. i don't think there was anybody who said they had been briefed. >> that surprises me, senator. i spoke -- we have this course call the ambassadorial seminar for nominees for positions whether they've been confirmed or not out at the foreign service institute. i spoke to the class in august, as did ambassador spratland. i spoke about a lot of issues, but i touched on this issue, and there's a class going on right now. i'm speaking to them next week about this issue. so whoever told you that skipped the class that day, which would not be surprising because they don't go to the class every day. >> okay. well, this was two weeks ago, and so i'm glad to hear that, that there is an ongoing. and is there a written protocol
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that people are provided? you mentioned the questions that -- >> so there have been several guidance cables to posts around the world, both classified and unclassified, about what to do, how to report, emphasizing there's no stigma for those who wish to report. both the diplomat security service and the medical bureau have done their own messages to their individual workforces. i think dr. padgett, the head of the medical bureau, did a town hall on this issue within the last couple of weeks. there's a lot of communication both through the workforce at large but also the units who have to deal with these issues directly. >> thank you. as we're talking about afghanistan and going forward, obviously what's happening to women and girls there is a critical concern for, i think, probably all americans. the secretary has said that he expected to appoint someone to coordinate a strategy around how to respond on afghan women and
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girls. that person has not yet been appointed. do you expect that to happen soon, and can you tell us who that is so that we can work with whoever is appointed to address concerns that we're hearing both from afghans but also thinking about how we can be helpful in the united states? >> i know that's still the secretary's intention. i confess i've lost the thread on where we are on selecting a person. so when i come see you next week to talk about ahi, i'll have a better answer. >> good. thank you. hopefully you'll have the name of a person. >> even better. >> to share with us. >> yeah. >> thank you. >> thank you. senator romney. >> deputy secretary mckeon, thank you for appearing today and appreciate the chance to ask you a few questions. i begin by saying something that i think we can all agree with, or almost all of us can, which was the afghanistan withdrawal was a very sad day in american
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history and in human history for many, many reasons. but at this stage, one of the things we're all concerned about is the number of people who were working with us and working with our military, who were fighting for our values, who are nonetheless still in afghanistan. i understand that an afghanistan task force was created to help get these individuals out, but i'm interested in understanding how many people are associated with that task force. is it effectively getting people out? what is the state of that work now? >> yeah. thank you, senator romney. i concur in what you said at the beginning. i know that there was a marine from utah who lost his life on august 26th, so, you know, as the secretary said, we have a special relationship with the marines, and a lot of state department officers knew some of those marines from service in other posts. so we have a task force that's lead by former ambassador beth jones that's looking across the continuum of how we're trying to
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get people out, which is how are we helping to facilitate travel out of afghanistan at what we call the transit points or lily pads at military bases now in the middle east primarily, and then bringing them to the united states for resettlement activities. the current -- there's been some turnover in the task force as people have gone back to their jobs, and then we issued a new call for recruits. recently we put out a department-wide call for people to come work on the task force, and 140 or so people raised their hands. but i'll have to get you the precise number of people working on it in the department. there are also people working out at the military bases on the resettlement work and at the bases in the middle east who are state or uasid people. the first priority as i said are american citizens and green cardholders but we're also working to evacuate afghans at risk and other people closely associated with the united states government. there's a number of applicants
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for the special immigrant visa program who already have a visa. they were issued a visa back in august, or we've given them what we call an electronic visa. so there we're also working to try to arrange flights for them. >> deputy secretary, i would just note that at least speaking for myself, if there's need for additional resources, financial resources to provide additional personnel to speed this process, i would, for one, be very anxious to provide that support. i think we have a moral responsibility, an american commitment to help those who helped us and leave no one behind. not just our own citizens but others who fought alongside us. >> yes. >> on a very different area, many of us have a great deal of concern about what china's ambitions might be with regards to taiwan. one, because of the people there who have enjoyed a freedom from the heavy hand of the communist chinese party. but also for our own interests,
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particularly given the fact, for instance, that the great majority of the world's semiconductors are manufactured in taiwan, and this would be an attractive get for the chinese communist party. what is or what can the state department be doing to make sure that china understands what the consequence would be -- i'm not talking about military consequence -- but the consequence would be of them taking an effort, a military effort to grab taiwan? >> senator, this is not something i work on very often, but i'm familiar with the general contours of our taiwan policy. as you know, it's grounded in the taiwan relations act and our commitment to taiwan's self-defense and providing their legitimate self-defense needs, which those arms sales go through the state department approval process. i think politically it's a broader campaign that we do directly with the chinese but
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with other governments to make it clear that coercion by china vis-a-vis taiwan or, god forbid, the efforts to seek to change the status quo by non-military means will not be accepted by the united states and the international community. >> i guess i -- the term will not be accepted by, i would love to have that expanded upon, not necessarily right here in this hearing, but to make it very clear to china what the consequence would be. i mean oftentimes we put in place sanctions on people who do things we don't like. the problem is the things we don't like have already occurred when those sanctions are put in place. i would love to be very clear to the chinese communist party about what would occur not just on the part of the united states but of our allies and friends around the world were they to take kinetic action against the people of taiwan and think that that specificity might be helpful in helping them calculate just exactly what the
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cost -- and i'm talking about the diplomatic and economic cost -- might be were they to take such effort. thank you, deputy secretary. appreciate your participation today. >> thank you. senator cardin. >> secretary mckeon, welcome. i thank you again for your leadership at the state department. let me first follow up on a point that senator risch brought up in regards to afghanistan and the procedures being used to help those that are vulnerable out of afghanistan, whether they are u.s. citizens, whether they're eligible for our special visas, or whether they're those that are at risk because of the taliban government. i sent a letter to the state department about a week ago and asked for a response before this hearing, and i've not gotten one in regards to the apparent lack of transparency and openness in individual cases that we have.
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during the withdrawal, the evacuation, we had a pretty open process with the state department on individual cases. that seemed to have changed once the -- our presence was no longer in afghanistan. i just really wanted to point out i was disappointed i didn't get a response.ount of inquiries response and following up with you. on the still significant amount of inquiries and were guards to vulnerable people still remaining in afghanistan. >> i am told by our head of legislative affairs behind me that the letter should have been delivered this morning. so if you don't have it we will make sure that you get it after this hearing. >> i thank you for that. >> first, i really very supportive of the announcements being made. the areas you mentioned for
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significant reform within state department. i agree with chair menendez, the additional statements of long period of time, the support for foreign service officers and our diplomacy mission. and so i do you think it needs to be reinvigorated and i think the outline that you announced today is the right way forward for us to have those discussions. i do encourage us to have a robust interaction as these plans are being implemented, because we are certainly going to have some comments. we may not be in total agreement. but we certainly want to work together to achieve the objectives you have set out. let me mention an area that gives me great concern. and that is, we have seen in regards to the training of our diplomatic former service people that we've cut back pretty dramatically in their
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ability to get the type of training necessary to carry out those missions. we've also seen a decline within mission capacity to deal with the core values that make america the strong nation it is. and promoting democratic institutions and advancing human rights and dealing with anti-corruption measures in the country. we just don't have the capacity to carry this out and we don't have the trained foreign service officers in order to advance these core mission objectives. so we in congress are looking at following president biden's leadership to advance these values. but we need to have in country, to deliver on that. so will you just share with us the priorities and making sure that we have the training resources available for a foreign service officers as well as well as the capacity in the mission to deal with advancing these values? >> thank you, senator cardin. on the first issue --
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and it's mentioned in my longer statement for the record maybe i hid on it in my oral statement -- we are trying to build what secretary powell first envisioned, which is a training float. that is, a sufficient number of people in the workforce so that people can go out and get training and we don't lose our capability or missions in washington. we have a training flow now to some degree because people take language training for six to 12 months. but we need to build a bigger cadre of people so that we can get the training and professional development floats, so that people can go on agency rotation and even go outside the government for rotation. in the 22 budget, we have asked for 508 positions. we have been ambitious in our submission for the 2023 budget to build on a decision that i would say still needs to be made. with regard to democracy and
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human rights and the core values, the president has embraced that central to his foreign policy. they worries abroad guidance to our mission and workforce and i speak to these issues and exemplify them, we are holding the summit for democracy later this year, which will be the first of a couple. in terms of the training for these officers to carry these messages, i will have to get back to you on what exactly the foreign service has to do. i know there is some work on human rights but i'm not familiar with all the details. >> in the summit, we all support the summit being held and the presidents leadership on -- that there will be countries participating that have challenges in regards to current trends in democracy. i hope that we are very direct in our messaging about the importance of not backsliding on democratic principles. and i just want to support your
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comments in regards to diversity and i would hope that the state department would work with us as the strategies they are using to make sure that the state department workforce represents our country. >> thank you. i understand senator young is with us virtually. ,? >>. ,. ? >>,. . >>. , i wish we could spend this hearing looking at strategic resources. i wish we had the luxury of rethinking the state department, evaluating new horizons and efforts throughout the world. s to asia i specially wish how d
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shift our focus to deal with growing threats. and a rising china. instead we must first attend to this administration's sub optimal withdrawal from afghanistan. it's careless failure to treat allies with respect and itself inflicted wounds and this after the -- vital resources at a critical time in our nation's history and so i want to start with a simple yes or no question. has our withdrawal from afghanistan free to resources at the state department to focus on other strategic priorities, such as the threat posed by the chinese communist party? yes or no, sir. >> we are spending fewer resources in afghanistan. that's correct. although some of these resources may get rescinded in appropriations. but that's not a yes or no.
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>> so, it's freed up resources to focus on other strategic priorities, we are not more focused on afghanistan now than we were a couple of years ago? >> in terms of our overall resources, that's correct. there is a focus on the enduring commitments to americans and the afghans who have helped us. >> okay -- >> but yes, we have fewer resources devoted to afghanistan. we have a pretty big assistance pipeline. some of it will probably get rescinded in appropriations process. >> all right, let me follow up, mr. mackinnon. i know the nature of the withdrawal has forced us to pull officers from asia and withstand multiple crisis teams. those teams are desperately trying to catch up to the crisis on the ground and we
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know diplomats have spent hundreds of hours trying to repair damaged reputations. that doesn't sound like a strategic refocusing. can you provide specific numbers of personnel and funding that have been freed up as a result of the withdrawal? >> i will have to get you those numbers for the record, senator young. what i would say that we certainly have not lost focus on the generational challenge in the indo-pacific indo-pacific strategy. i'm unaware that we've polled officers. we did have some consular officers at some of our bigger post in the world helping to call american citizens. but we have not pulled officers from missions -- >> okay. i look forward to getting the specific numbers of personnel and funding. >> i could also say, senator,
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the 22 budget and the 23 budgets requests, as we look to personal resources, the number one is the east asia pacific bureau in both ears. >> all right. how would you say that morale and confidence at state has been affected by our botched withdrawal from afghanistan? >> well, i'm not sure i can speak to the morale of 75,000 people who worked for the department. i would say that many people who stepped up to volunteer either to go to afghanistan -- >> i'm respectfully interject. you are one of the leaders of the state department and you are supposed to have the finger on the pulse of morale of folks at the state department. i think you could at least make a generalization about
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institutionally and organizationally are folks on the line. so that we in congress might fulfill our oversight responsibilities. >> the people who volunteer to go to kabul and work on the task force, built a strong sense of mission to help during the crisis. and felt that they did the best they could. and managed to save a lot of lives. but i know people who came back from kabul airport who are undergoing an emotional toll with regard to the experience they went through. s about many people in the apart served in afghanistan 20 years. there is an array of emotions about what was invested in what was lost. >> -- >> go ahead. >> how can we say that the withdrawal has left us better equipped diplomatically to face
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other challenges? i'll just and with that question. >> in a broad sense, senator, in afghanistan in at least the last decade there was -- we were investing substantial sums and human resources both at the defense department and state department, and that usaid, which is in some respects our opportunity across the obama administration, in which i served -- constantly asking the question, what am i getting for 20 to 40 billion dollars a year? what is the opportunity cost of that? ultimately, the strategic shift away from afghanistan allowing us to focus on other areas, which is the challenge of china, to our national benefit. >> thank you, sir. >> thank you, senator kaine. >> i have a thought, mister chair, that i wanted to direct
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to the committee and to the leadership of the committee. a concern of mine. in discussions about afghanistan, in the armed services committee and this committee, there is a sense of there should be, with the withdrawal, the planning correctly. but i'm not yet aware of what really happened in the senate of the significant discussions of committee hearings about maybe the most pressing issue with respect to the afghanistan withdrawal. we have brought tens of thousands of afghans, safely into the united states. they are in new jersey and new mexico and indiana and wisconsin. i have visited two of the sites in virginia, quantico has about 5000 afghans on a base right now. fort lee has about 2000. and i actually think that the biggest marker of the success or failure of the afghan evacuations, it's going to be
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the work that we do as a nation to help these families transition into being successful parts of the american society. my worry is i am not hearing that as a focus of committee discussions. some of the resettlement effort is owned by the state department. the dhs is now the agency on the effort. most of the afghans -- they are not sivs, they are in a humanitarian parole situation that will need some adjustment at the end of the two year period and that will likely go through the judiciary committee. the tremendous needs of the resettlement agencies, those would likely be handled the appropriations. but i'm wondering from a senate oversight of this critical commission, going forward, i would love it if this committee might have a hearing about the resettlement effort and what more we can do for these families. or a number of the committees doing it together. because i think this is absolutely critical. when i went to fort lee at the end of august, the plan at that
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time and families being told this is that they may be on the military base for ten days two weeks. when i went to quantico, last monday, a week ago, this past monday, the families were being told that they might be there for three to four weeks. 5000 afghans on that base they were letting 50 depart. i just did my math -- okay, that's 100 days, three or four months, not three or four weeks. it's all dependent on the resettlement agencies available, to find jobs and housing. finding jobs in a tight labor market -- i had a restaurant enrichment call me and say, i want to hire afghans, because if i cannot hire afghans i cannot hire anybody. there are some market conditions. maybe easier than it would be at the time when the employment rate is high. but i worry about the discussions that we've had, in late august to now, i don't see
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an organized discussion with a big spotlight on what we need to do to successfully enable tens of thousands of afghans resettle and lead productive lies. again, i don't know whether foreign relations is the right venue for that. would it be judiciary or appropriations? i am feeling a compelling need, as this work is going to be so tough.. i don't know if you have talked about that. i hope that this committee may be able to take this matter in hand with other committees. >> i thank the senator for his observations. i agree with you, 9000 in new jersey. the process
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as i understand it, they seem to be labor opportunities, it's the housing element that needs to be challenging across the to the extent that the committee has jurisdiction, i'm happy to consider the extent to which it exceeds our jurisdiction, we are happy to engage with other committees. to see if we can have a joint hearing or create attention. >> i appreciate that. i have one question for you. >> i'll speak to this briefly, if you wish, senator kaine. >> let me ask you one question. the state department has a health incidents response task force looking at the havana syndrome issues. the previous leader of that task force left on september 23rd and as far as i know, state has not appointed a new person. if i'm correct in that, can you
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tell me that you will get a director running that task force asap? >> as i told senator shaheen, the secretary is expected to make a new announcement about a new coordinator in the next day or two. >> thank you, mister chair. >> thank, you senator barrasso. >> thank you very much mister chairman. on august 19th, president biden vowed that he would get every american out before withdrawing u.s. forces. he stated americans understand we are going to try to get it done before august 31st. the president on to say, if there are american citizens left behind, we are going to stay until we get them out. this saturday i attended funeral services for one of the 13 soldiers who was a u.s. marine, 1000 people turned out in wyoming to honor his life. a life he gave at the airport in
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kabul -- i'm talking to you, would you please pay attention? >> i'm listening, senator, i'm looking at my notes on this very issue. >> the next day, the president reiterated a point, stating, let me be clear, any american who wants to come home, we will get you home. the president of the united states. well, he didn't keep his word on august 30th. the last military evacuation's with the last five planes leaving kabul ended without a single american on board. the biden administration left hundreds of partners behind enemy lines. the administration seems in deep denial, greatly miscalculating how many citizens they left behind. deep denial or great miscalculation. on september 13th, secretary blinken said there were fewer than 200 american citizens in
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afghanistan who wanted to leave. yesterday, under secretary of defense for policy, colin powell testified before before the senate armed services committee, that they were 450 american citizens still in afghanistan. he said 196 americans were ready to leave afghanistan. he also stated that since september 1st, the u.s. government has helped facilitate the departure of 234 u.s. citizens and 144 permanent residents. and today you testified to a different number. it's been almost two months since the u.s. withdrew from afghanistan. there are still american citizens trying to get home to get to safety, still behind enemy lines. with no u.s. presence on the ground, what mechanism are you using to ensure the safe evacuation of americans that the biden administration left behind in afghanistan? >> senator barrasso, we are working every day to try to
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bring out the americans who wish to depart. we are working with countries willing to go into the kabul airport. there is not normal commercial aircraft service right now at the kabul airport. we have some flights that we expect to go this week to bring out several dozen americans. >> several dozen? when do you believe all americans who want to leave afghanistan will be evacuated? >> so the number, as i said, of those ready to depart is 200. at the current pace, depending on if we continue to have success with these charter flights, i think all of these people, they say they are ready to depart. they'll have the opportunity to depart in the next couple of weeks. >> so we have americans still trapped in afghanistan, what actions has this administration taken to ensure the well-being of these americans? >> we are talking to the taliban in doha about their
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commitment to permit freedom to travel, particularly american citizens. and we are working with a couple of airlines who are willing to go into kabul airport. they have agents checking the manifest, making sure they have the right documents. it is something our team task force, led by ambassador west jones, is working on. >> the taliban has taken over afghanistan. there are a foreign terrorist organization. there is increased insecurity, threats posed to civilians. afghanistan is in crisis. no u. s. civilian diplomat or military presence is currently being held. the administration wants to continue to provide foreign assistance, including economic support funds, to afghanistan. during his testimony before the house subcommittee, the special
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inspector general stated, quote, a reduced u.s. civilian and military presence, among a deteriorating environment, could create new challenges for conducting effective oversight of u.s. funded grants, programs and contracts for reconstruction work. given the fact that there is no u.s. presence, is there any way to ensure that taxpayer resources will be used appropriately and actually go to the intended recipients? >> senator, the primary assistance we are providing in afghanistan's humanitarian assistance, through un agencies like the world food programme. all these organizations have long experience working in challenging environments, where there has been civil war. so we have confidence in that system that if we see anomalies or
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money seeping off to the taliban, we will stop the programs. we have a statutory provision that says no funding to the taliban. >> thank, you mister chairman. >> thank you, before i recognize senator murphy, i wish we had had the alarm bells sounded when president trump made a deal with the taliban that told them with a date certain we will leave by this date and release thousands of taliban prisoners to the taliban, which only augmented their fighting force. that automatically reduce our troop presence before this administration took over. and that got none of the commitments from the taliban cemented before all those actions were taken. that set the stage. i don't excuse anybody for execution of what they decided. but at the set the stage.
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senator murphy. >> thank, you mister chairman. senator barrasso is left but it takes a lot of gall to come down to the committee and lecture this committee on policy, when right now republicans are using extraordinary powers on the senate floor to deny personnel what they need to conduct this policy. senator barrasso is talking about whether taxpayer dollars are going to be effectively administered in afghanistan. i came from the floor for trying to get approval for two non controversial usaid administrators whose job it is to oversee expenditure of u.s. dollars in and around places in afghanistan. and we were denied ability to move the two nominees. this is the secretary that oversees afghanistan. the assistant secretary that oversees refugee policy, directly relevant to afghanistan, blocked by the republicans. so spare me the righteous indignation about whether or not this administration is
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conducting foreign policy according to your priorities when you are at the same time denying the personnel necessary to protect this nation. never before, never before has a minority party gone to this length to stop a presidents diplomatic team from being put in place. president trump by this time had nearly 20 ambassadors assigned, 17 by voice vote. this president has four ambassadors in place. it's like criticizing your body for not fighting back after you just tied his hands. mister secretary, i wanted to talk to you about the impact of not having ambassadors. we have great charges out there, and they are all capable but they are not ambassadors. and in my
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travels around the world, representing this congress, there is a difference when you have an ambassador. there is a level of diplomacy that an ambassador can engage in for the united states. there is a level of meeting that can only be engaged with by an ambassador and different from what a charges can be engaged in. can you talk about the impact of not having assistant secretaries or ambassadors in place to oversee? >> you've touched on an important issue that concerns us. we have very talented officers serving in dozens of countries around the world. if they decided to be deputy chief admissions -- they were not chiefs of missions. and in the progression of the foreign service, that's a job
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you hold before you get to be an ambassador. so people are doing a stretch assignment. they are performing very well in leading their missions. but there are substantial costs. one, you put your finger on. in some countries, the government will not receive an american representative unless they are an ambassador. so we don't get the influence we want. secondly, it's an inter agency mission. people from across the government serving. and having an accredited and confirmed ambassador lighting that mission really makes a difference. having someone who has the power of the president and the secretary. and in washington, assistant secretaries, they drive the policy innovation. him and having senate confirmed people, recommended by the secretary, chosen by the president, it makes a big difference. the acting people we had in place were terrific. but after the four years, not
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all of them took the initiative. so having the folks that we have chosen in place, it's made the difference. you can see it already with some of the assistant secretaries who have come in. thank you for being diligent about trying to move forward, the presidents security. team i also know that this is largely a crisis being created by one of the committee. but it does seem to be spreading. i would just on the floor asking for these two usaid administrators. it was not senator coons who was objecting. it was senator marshall. and so this remains a crisis that i hope this committee can wrap its head around. lastly, if i could send you some information on a bill that i'm introducing today, with senator cornyn, on sub national diplomacy. trying to help the department organize mayors and governors
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to be able to represent the united states abroad. this is something that you care deeply about and believe in. my time has expired but i'd love to continue to work with this committee and try to work with and buttress our core and represent america. broad i happen look at that senator. this is of great interest to the secretary. thank you miss >> thank you mister chairman. >> thank you senator. >> thank you mister chairman. i'd like to speak to senator murphy's point and come to senator barrasso's defense. with all due respect senator murphy, this is about priorities. it's not how they set priorities it's about how time is utilized on the senate floor. since i've been here i've seen the board of governors of the postal service seated, time has been utilized to do that. i've seen term appointees of the previous administration pushed out of their positions, again, leaving these departments unsupervised. i myself was put
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through 30 hours of closure before i could be named u.s. ambassador to japan. so we have to do this. i'd like to turn to you, deputy secretary mcgovern. as you know the government of israel strongly opposes president biden's plan to open a u.s. consulate palestinians in jerusalem. competing u.s. mission in israel's capital city. -- follow the law, the jerusalem embassy. -- eternal and undivided capital. that happened in 2017. then by moving the embassy from tel aviv to jerusalem in 2018. the trump administration closed the u.s. consulate of the palestinians and merged under the chief authority to israel. president biden's proposal to open a second u.s. mission would begin to reverse the
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recognition of jerusalem at it would divide israel's undivided capital city. yesterday, i -- a bill yesterday i lead 36 senators that would protect america's definition of the israel embassy act of 1995. and ensure there is only one u.s. mission, a u.s. embassy to israel that exists in israel's capital city of jerusalem. deputy secretary mckeon, i want to confirm something on the record. is it your understanding that under u.s. and international law, the government of israel would have to provide its affirmative consent before the united states could open or reopen the u.s. consulate to the palestinians in jerusalem or does the biden administration believe it can move forward to establish a second u.s. mission in the capital city of jerusalem without the consent of israel? >> that's my understanding, we need the consent of the host
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government to open any diplomatic facility. >> that's my understanding is well. i don't understand that that's the intent of the administration. i appreciate being on the record clarifying that that is a requirement. i know this isn't necessarily a decision you'd be implementing here. but the state department should know that congress has enacted laws that mandate that the united states should recognize jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of israel and that it should take all diplomatic steps to effectuate this recognition. opening a second u.s. mission in israel's capital city of jerusalem will start to reverse this process. my next question, -- >> there is no intention to move the u.s. embassy from jerusalem. >> i want to make certain that is the case. we voted 97 to three to make sure that that was the case. i want to focus on the bipartisan issue of modernizing the state department in the 21st century.
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as a former diplomat, i'm personally committed to this issue. in july senator cardin and i held a subcommittee hearing on this topic. during that meeting, it was said that changes desperately, urgently needed if the department is to serve the united states of america and the interest of the people in the employ of the department of state. it's been 41 years since the congress last passed legislation on this issue and i believe it's now time for congress to modernize the foreign service act of 1980. i hope to work with senator harden and the other members of the committee on this issue. deputy secretary, mckeon, do you agree that change is urgently neill desperately needed at the state department? >> the modernization agenda that the secretary has announced this morning is precisely because we know we have a historic moment where we need to enable the department for the challenges of the next several decades.
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>> i'm glad we agree on that. do you commit to working with this committee on the state department management, to reform the state department including testifying when necessary? >> yes. >> thank you. i understand from your testimony that state is conducting a review on cybersecurity, digital policy and emerging technologies. i also understand you are contemplating a cyber office that will report to deputy secretary sherman. i hope to work with you to ensure a that a highly capable and technically efficient nominee is appointed to the opposition. thank you. >> we welcome your suggestions. yes, we are announcing a new policy on cyberspace and digital policy. and we will need to work with this committee and other committees to work through the notification process and get your consent. thank you. >> thank you mister chairman. >> thank you, senator cardin? >> i wanted to acknowledge -- and i did get your letter this morning, i didn't have a chance to read it. but i want to acknowledge for the record -- >> thank, you senator, i'm sorry it took till this
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morning. >> mister secretary, i have one final question for you and then we will adjourn. i applaud the recent announcement of the new cyber bureau and the technology special envoys, as well as the work of the state department that has already done to center recent diplomatic efforts on technological cooperation. the question for me, including the concerns i have about i. t. security repeated cyber intrusions of the department networks and systems -- what's steps are you planning to take to ensure that the bureau of cyberspace and digital policy and the special envoy for critical and emerging technologies will be successful at achieving their missions? and particularly, how do you plan to clarify the distinct missions between the bureau and the technology special envoy? how do you intend to deconflict
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their objectives and strategies? >> thank, you senator. we think there is enough space for both because of the different work priorities that we expect them to undertake. the cyber and digital policy bureau will focus on international cybersecurity policy, digital freedom, international digital policy working with the telecommunications union on trusted telecoms issues and the like. the special envoy on critical and emerging technologies will focus on the first instance on issues like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, making sure our engagement with both these sectors, the rest of the government and technology partners is advanced and in the right place. part of the reason to have both of these entities reporting directly to secretary sherman, directly, at least for the first year, is ensuring harmony in their missions -- excuse me, not stepping all over each other. >> well, we look forward to
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your continued engagement of the committee as you create this reorganization and structure. but we applaud -- this is an area we think is incredibly important. senator hagerty. >> thank you, mister chairman. i want to echo the points you are making and that it is critically important in these positions that we get people with the right technical proficiency. the devolution of these technologies is moving rapidly and i think it's going to be critically important that we get people that are deeply trained and immersed in this technology and the evolution that is underway. again, we look forward to working with you closely on selecting nominees. >> thank you, senator. one of the reasons we created two separate entities instead of one large entity and dealing with both, is that in some ways it's quite distinct. it's hard to find one person with both of these skill sets. so that was part of it. >> the record of this hearing
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will remain to the close of business tomorrow and with the thanks of the committee, this hearing is adjourned.
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