WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement after receiving a letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson regarding the State Department’s planned organizational changes related to ambassadors-at-large, special envoys and related positions:
“I agree with Secretary Tillerson that there is room for examining the use of our Special Envoys, a number of which were created for challenges that we no longer face or where responsibilities or portfolios overlap. However, the Congress has a clear role to play in the process, which is why the Members of the Foreign Relations Committee included Congressional oversight of Special Envoys in the recently passed State Authorization bill. The Administration must work closely with Congress to eliminate special envoys, a number of which were created by statute and which require legislation to change and eliminate. The Administration should consult with Congress, even for those positions that exist solely on the basis of administrative action.
“I therefore appreciate that the Secretary’s letter on Special Envoys asks for my feedback on his proposed plan, which I intend to examine closely. While I support creating a more efficient and effective Department, we must be sure that the Administration is not eliminating Envoys who are critical to our ability to advance our interests and our values.
“More broadly, I remain deeply concerned that the combination of proposed budget cuts, personnel departures and vacant or eliminated positions at the State Department will leave a hollowed-out agency unable to advance American diplomacy, values and ideas around the world.”