WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement Tuesday after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson addressed employees of the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development:
“Secretary Tillerson missed an opportunity today to put the State Department back on a path to full health and definitively end his poorly conceived and ill-executed hiring freeze at State and USAID, among the only agencies in the Executive Branch left under such a policy months after the President lifted the wider freeze. We do not yet know the extent of the damage the hiring freeze has done to State and USAID, but it is likely to be felt for years to come. Some steps the Secretary announced today, such as the lifting of the freeze for Eligible Family Members (EFMs), improvements to information technology, and expediting security clearances, are welcome, but these are drops in a bucket compared to the magnitude of issues facing this Department. These problems have been needlessly inflicted by this Administration, and the Secretary confessed he does not have any ‘wins to put on the board’ at this time. It will take a lot of hard work to help State and USAID recover from the damage the freeze and rudderless ‘redesign’ have done, and I am committed to helping them do so.
“The personnel of the State Department and USAID are on the front lines, every day, all around the world protecting our interests, promoting our values, and keeping us safe. From Havana to Tehran to Moscow to Pyongyang to Juba—never have the roles of diplomacy and development been more important to our national security.”
On November 9, Cardin questioned the abrupt cancellation of job offers for 97 USAID Foreign Service Officers.
At a SFRC hearing on November 14th, Senator Cardin stood up for the Foreign and Civil Service employees at the Department and questioned the hiring freeze.
On December 5, Cardin and Senator Todd Young called on Tillerson to lift the hiring freeze.
On December 6, Cardin led the 10 Democrats on the SFRC in also calling for the hiring freeze to be lifted, among a host of pressing problems they want addressed.