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Sen. Schatz Opposes Tillerson’s Confirmation as Secretary of State

January 31, 2017, 3:00 PM HST
* Updated January 31, 2:20 PM
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Portrait of Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of State. Courtesy photo.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) released the following statement on Jan. 29 in opposition to confirming Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.

“The secretary of state is our nation’s top diplomat. He or she is responsible for advancing our national interests and keeping true to our core values. That means this person must have the knowledge base and skill set to represent American principles and pursue peace through diplomacy. After reviewing his record and his testimony before the Senate, I do not believe Mr. Tillerson is the right person to lead the State Department.

“From international human rights to the grave threats facing our country, Mr. Tillerson’s views do not align with well-established, bipartisan foreign policy. The United States has built our global leadership on a foundation of core American values of liberty and justice for all—values that were missing from Mr. Tillerson’s testimony in his nomination hearing. The concerns I had regarding the South China Sea and Russia also deepened as we went through the confirmation process.

“Some of those concerns bleed into questions about Mr. Tillerson’s knowledge of U.S. diplomacy and his ability to translate his skills from ExxonMobil to the State Department. Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Tillerson outlined his vision – one that would support short-term military operations rather than long-term global engagement. It is a view that is inconsistent with the mission of the State Department and, in fact, overlaps with the Department of Defense.

“The next secretary of state will need to argue for our values and our priorities with friends and adversaries alike. This leader will also have a historic number of vacant senior career professional positions that risk being filled with people who don’t know how to run the State Department and our embassies overseas. At a time when our country is facing a historic variety of challenges in almost every part of the world, there is no safety net to catch an inexperienced diplomat. That is a risk we cannot afford to take. I will vote no on his nomination to lead the State Department.”

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