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tv   Deputy Secretary Sullivan Testifies on State Department Reorganization  CSPAN  July 20, 2017 5:01am-5:56am EDT

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their input is extremely important, and there has been no decision to merge a.i.d. into state. second, ambassador mull i have met with. he is one of our most senior career ambassadors, a great patriot. we are -- the office that you described is one of those that it is unreview. no decision has been made yet on where -- what will be done, if anything will be changed, with respect to that office. but what i can assure you of is two things. first, that the significance of the subject that's addressed by that office has not diminished in any way. second, whatever information you, senator coons, or this committee needs you will get. that's my promise to you. >> thank you, mr. secretary. thank you, mr. chairman, for your indulgence. >> we will stand in recess for
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15 minutes. we will reconvene at 5:49. you are welcome to our great coffee back there or sitting and talking to others, but thank you. recess will end and we'll stand in hearing again. i'll move to senator portman. thank you for being here, sir. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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secretary sullivan, you know how i feel about you. i appreciate the proactive approach you took on getting ot ot otto warmbier home. i appreciate you coming to his funeral. i know the reorganization was a topic of discussion and i want to talk to you about that as it relates to the global engagement center. as you know it is something i feel strongly about. in 2017 as a senate and house in the national defense authorization act asked the global engagement center to take on additional responsibilities, specifically with regard toinformation coming from countries intended to destabilize democracies, undermine some of our basic values and institutions. russia and china come to mind. gc also has an important role, as you know, in providing the counternarrative and pushing back against islamic extremism. so my question for you, is there
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an ability to keep some of these important entities like the global engagement center specifically from being weakened by a hiring freeze or other reorganizations that could lead to it having more difficult time carrying out its important responsibilities? >> certainly. thank you, senator. thank you for your help also with the warmbier case. we appreciate the assistance you provided. with respect to the global engagement center, it is a priority for secretary tillerson. it is something that's an important part of our mission for all of the reasons you state. we are flexible and there is a hiring freeze, but we are flexible with respect to that. we have granted a number of exemptions, over 700 exceptions to the hiring freeze, to support safety, security, health.
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so we are reviewing them regularly, and i'm not aware that there has been as of yet a request with respect to the gec but we would certainly entertain that. >> well, thank you. you know, i think that the threats we talked about do present a national security threat to the united states of america, and certainly that would qualify it seems to me. again, we are just getting this up and going. it is more important than ever given what we know about now some of the meddling here in our own election, but also some democracies around the world being affect by some of this foreign disinformation. so i would hope you would continue to develop that important entity. i thank you for that. if you don't mind, what i would like you to do is get back to me on it. >> of course. >> and we will be interested to see why they have not made a request, if they have not. on the reorganization in
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general, again, i know you had an opportunity to speak about this, the many entities that, you know, you now have oversight over in your role as deputy, and i understand you will be heading up some of the reorganization ideas, is the foreign military financing. and i think fmf is a critical component much american relations in building key parts of the world and the state department budget request. that account was to be reduced by 19% compared to 2017 with 95% of the request allocated to just four countries, israel, egypt, jordan, pakistan. i think the remaining 200 million was to be placed in a global account. i guess i just wondered, does this budget proposal reflect broader structural changes in the reorganization? in other words is this something that the state department is considering as part of its reorganization? and what do you perceive as the
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benefits of such changes compared to the current fmf structure? >> well, the redesign that we're undertaking is really independent of the budgeting process. secretary tillerson has made clear that even if our budget were being increased, even if we were the defense department and we were getting more money from the budget, that he would undertake a redesign to look at the mission of the department and how we're organized. one of the work streams, one of the work groups that's been constituted for the redesign focuses on foreign assistance programs, and included in that is fmf. so we are considering reviewing that as part of our redesign effort with input from foreign service, civil service, senior level career people to make recommendations on improving our foreign assistance programs including fmf. >> on fmf are you looking at loans instead of grants?
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>> i'm sorry? >> are you looking at loans instead of grants? >> we're looking at both. >> again, my time has expired. i want to thank you for your help most recently on the warm bier case. generally i wish you good luck on the reorganization. i do think there's room for reform and i do think there are ways to more effectively be able to represent our interests, soft power interests around the world, and i'm glad you are where you are. thank you, mr. chair. >> thank you, sir. senator menendez. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i hope this is the first of many conversations we will have about the state department authorization bill. i have serious reservations about the bill as written for a number of reasons, and i just want to outline a few of those. it is my personal belief that congress as a whole is a co-equal branch of government with the executive and must therefore dutifully exercise its role not only as overseer but as authorizer. what do you authorize. while i appreciate the efforts
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of the chair to include many of the provisions senator rubio and i worked on together for the bureaus that fall within our subcommittee's jurisdiction, the bill merely offers permissive suggestions for the secretary, saying there should be a bureau within the department that is authorized to promote democracy and actively support human rights throughout the world is very different from mandating that bureau's existence. i worry, particularly given this administration's intentions, for example, to completely cut funding for democracy assistance, such permissive language would give the secretary congressional coverage for simply not supporting such a view. so in my view, true oversight is in essence to create the structure at the state department to authorize it. that's the congress's view. additionally, this bill does not address a critical component much our foreign policy, foreign assistance, and usaid and foreign assistance programs that
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promote economic development, support good governance reform, provide technical and educational training are essential elements of a comprehensive american foreign policy that promotes our interest and builds more stable and resilient allies and partners. to suggest as i've heard the possibility of folding usaid into state to me is alarming. i would like to understand the policy perspective behind that. i'm especially concerned that we're undertaking this exercise as the administration pursues what continues to be at least to me draconian cuts. and even though we supposedly reject it here, it says where the administration is intended, draconian cuts to the agency primarily responsible for promoting american values and securing our interests overseas, and an ill-defined organization process that thus far seems to be no more than an exercise undermining and pushing out career diplomats in the foreign and civil service who have dedicated their lives to serving this country with seemingly no
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strategic consideration that i can discern. mr. sullivan, public reports of the listening survey you reference in your testimony indicate "a high level of confusion and demoralization among the ranks of career diplomats and civil servants who expressed concerns about their futures as well as the trajectory of american foreign policy." you have explained these measures as saving money, and i ask at what cost. a conservative national review recently published a piece that included, "the state department's core is being gutted." tillerson is runny foggy bottom the way a corporate raider might take over a company, firing half the workforce, repurposing its original mission, scaling back operations across the globe. offices are being shuttered while ambassador, secretary and under secretary posts remain unfilled. since it is the beginning of the debate i assume, i wanted to take most of my time to say that. let me ask you in what time i
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have left one or two strategic questions. can you share with me whether, you know, during your nomination hearing before this committee in may, which i supported you, you noted the culture and policy differences between usaid and state including the long-terminature of development and offered a focus of diplomacy. can you give me a sense of whether it is true that proposals to merge usaid into the state department is, in fact, taking place, or to reduce the agency's autonomy, and if so how do you intend to incorporate this perspective view? you said under oath here in terms of going through the conversations on reorganization. >> well, the first thing i would say, senator, thank you, is that we are including both at the steering -- on our steering committee, which is the broad organizing committee that i chair and on all of the five working groups, including the
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foreign assistance working groups, senior and less senior career a.i.d. officials who -- career people first predominate on every one of these working groups and the steering committee, and there is proportional representation. so a.i.d. is well-represented, the a.i.d. perspective, which you just articulated with which i agreed during my confirmation hearing and still agree. >> how many people in the working group? >> there are approximately 50. >> and how many people from a.i.d.? >> i don't have it. i will get you that number, but it is a breakdown based on the -- the size of the state department versus a.i.d., but i will get you those precise numbers. but a.i.d. we believe is completely -- its view is articulated by senior people who are represented fairly on all of these committees. >> well, my time has expired. you told me that they're
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represented. that wasn't my question. my question was, is it part of the policy reorganization intention to fold a.i.d. into state? and if so, how are you dealing with the differences in culture? >> my apologies, senator. the answer to that question is no, there is no intention to fold a.i.d. into state. that has been -- that has been proposed by people outside the department. it is something that could be considered by this working group, but if it were, it would be with the full input of all of these a.i.d. leaders involved. but i can commit to you that there has not been an intention -- there is not an intention of this department to absorb usaid. >> if i could, as i understand just in talking with you but also secretary tillerson,
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there's no beginning point of making any assumption whatsoever either way, as i understand it, and y'all are taking input but you're not beginning this process with the intention of trying to make that happen? you're beginning the process by meeting with others and trying to understand the best way to go forward, is that correct? >> correct. and in going forward it will be done in, as senator menendez said, as recommended and we agree in close consultation with this committee. >> mr. chairman, i remember the refrain, that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. and so, you know, i get what the secretary is saying, but i have serious concern when people are told, you know, fill out forms and do memos that basically talk about how your service would be moved into another direction. maybe that's not the intention. maybe it is informative at the end of the day, but i'm not quite sure. i have many other questions. i will submit them for the record. i hope this is the beginning of a conversation. >> very good. i'm not trying to lead.
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i just don't want his response to be misunderstood based on what i know to be some other context, and also i don't think that there's an intent to move it in any particular direction. i think that's fair at this point, and i think it is also fair that you want input and others want input before a decision like that is made. senator shaheen. >> well, thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you to you and senator cardin for holding this hearing, which i think is very important. because as so many of my colleagues have said, it is critical that congress play a role, an oversight role in this reorganization effort, and our engagement as a committee when we are in the process of a state reauthorization process i think is particularly important. i have some reservations that i have shared with the committee chairman about moving forward with this kind of a reorganization at the department
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while we're also doing a reauthorization that -- and we have no idea what is going to come out of the reorganization that you're doing at the department and what your recommendations will be. so i have some specific questions, but before i get to those i just want to raise a topic that i know this committee has been concerned about. i know it was raised last week. i think with you actually. that is the reports of undersecretary shannon's meeting with the russian deputy minister today. we've had experts. i raised this last week before the armed services committee when we were talking about russia's influence in the montenegro and their coup attempt basically and what kind of message it would send if we returned those facilities that were seedsed in the attack on our election. the witnesses before the armed services committee were unanimously in saying that is
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absolutely the wrong message for us to be sending. so i just want to raise this again because i think it is a very big issue and i hope you will keep the committee informed about any updates on these talks and what happens with this issue. >> certainly, senator shaheen. i have had this conversation with senator cardin last week. >> that's my understanding. >> those properties to which you refer have -- are part of a larger dialogue with the russian federation involving issues -- for example, the russian -- the png issue, the russian diplomats who were expel, there are a whole host of issues that we're discussing with the russian federation. i understand there is a meeting going on as we speak, but my undertaking commitment to senator cardin and i make to you is that we will consult with you on this issue before any final
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implementation of an agreement that we don't have yet with the russian federation. >> well, i appreciate that. again, i don't think we should be rewarding russia until we see their behavior change. so i want to go on to a couple of issues relative to the reorganization. you mentioned the conversation we had at your confirmation hearing about the office of global women's issues, which i understand is that our draft state authorization text still removes the ambassador at large for that position. i think it is hard to think about setting up an office for global women's issues without having somebody in charge of that who has significant authority. so can you talk about what you're doing with respect to that issue as you're looking at the reorganization?
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>> certainly. it is a high priority for the secretary as he has testified and as i have testified, and it is a high priority for the white house. both the president and senior advisers to the president. so the office itself, as is the case with all of the special envoys that we have been discussing, is included in -- because it is a look at the entire department. it is included in what we are assessing. what i can commit to you is -- well, i can commit several things. first, that issue will not -- the significance of that issue of empowering women will not be downgraded no matter what happens to the office. second, we will consult with you before any action is taken. third, that we are committed at the department to empowering women at the department. those three things i am confident of and commit to you. >> well, thank you. i very much appreciate that. one of the other reports that's
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come out in the last week has been that the white house is pushing for state department bureaus of consular affairs and the bureau of population refugees and migration to be transferred to the department of homeland security. can you speak to whether that is under consideration? >> it is similarly to -- it is similar to my response to senator menendez. that is not the intent of the department. secretary tillerson does not have at present that intention. it is something that if it were raised in our review we would consider, but it would be considered with the understanding that both the consular affairs function and the function of prm are vitally important to our mission at the department of state. as i discussed last week at the hearing on thursday. >> well, thank you. i again appreciate that. consular affairs, as you know, has been charged with setting
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visa policies since 1952 when we passed the immigration and nationality act, and i think to shift that to the department of homeland security, especially at a time when the issue of refugees and immigration is so controversial, would be the absolutely wrong approach. i will just tell you right now that if that's the case, i will be one of those opponents leading the charge. thank you. >> thank you. >> just again i want to revisit the subject that senator menendez brought up, and then i would like to visit something senator shaheen has just brought up. i get no sense whatsoever that it is the intention of the secretary of state to push for usaid to be merged into state. i get none of that. i don't think that's an outcome they're driving at. i do think, on the other hand, they are sitting down and talking with people, as you might expect, and getting input as to how the organization ought
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to be set up, but i don't -- i don't think there's any desire whatsoever for that predetermined outcome to occur. okay. i don't. i know you have some concerns about the piece of legislation, and we all know that any one senator at this juncture can keep it from happening. what i don't understand is -- i know we talked about it some on the floor. i don't understand why waiting to do an authorization until after the state department has acted, i don't see how that benefits anybody. i just don't understand that. i mean we're continuing to build out a state department authorization. each year we make it larger and larger and larger, and at some point we're going to have the whole thing done. i don't understand how because they're going through a re-org
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us not taking action benefits us. i know we have talked about that. again, any one person can keep it from happening, we got it. i just don't understand how that retains authority to the senate. so we're having an open discussion. maybe this is improper, but i just wanted to raise that. >> sure. >> so as i understand the reauthorization that we're looking at, we don't deal with usaid in that reauthorization, is that correct? >> which is -- which is how we set up the process on the front end in order to, again, accomplish as much as we thought we could under a unanimous consent type senate. but go ahead. >> well, i guess it feels to me like if -- if there were a reorganization that makes the recommendation for usaid or the bureau of consular affairs or global women's issues, whatever it is, that when that goes into
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effect, if we've already done our reauthorization we don't really have a vehicle that we can help to move to raise congress's concerns about those reorganization policies that we might disagree with. that's the concern that i have. >> except that we have the authorization again next year. >> we do, but -- >> by withholding we are in no way keeping a vehicle to do it. do you understand? >> i do, but i also understand when something goes into effect it is harder to undo it than to prevent it from happening. >> but we don't have a vehicle at present -- i mean, again, i'm just missing the psychology here and i want to understand it because i would like for us to continue as a committee to build out to a place where we actually have an ndaa type authorization process. >> right. >> each year it is getting broader and broader and broader. i just don't understand how
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withholding has any effect whatsoever on the re-org when they're telling us they're going to come back and consult with us anyway in that process all the way through. but it is a conversation we need to continue to have. >> mr. chairman, if i could just -- >> yeah. >> -- briefly intercede. i want to get an authorization bill done this year, so i'm with you on that. but i think it is a reality that we have to look at what's being done in the administration. let me just give you one example. tonight there was a press report that the secretary of state's considering the elimination of the special coordinator for global criminal justice issues, which basically deal with atrocities and war crimes. there's great interest in this committee on both sides of the aisle for syrian war crimes accountability, iraq war crimes accountability, preventing atrocities, et cetera. although i understand the secretary wants to reorganize,
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it is being broadcast as down playing the importance of holding war criminals accountable. in that environment it is going to be difficult for us not to respond. so i think senator shaheen's point dealing with usaid, yes, we have agreed that this framework would not include usaid, but if the administration is taking fundamental changes -- and i understand secretary sullivan believes that's not the case, but if they were taking fundamental changes on the organization of usaid and we remain silent, that is a challenge. and if they're going to do major changes in criminal war crimes accountability and we're silent, that's a non-starter for i think both democrats and republicans on this committee. so i just think it is a reality we're going to have to respond to some of the things that are done, but i want to get to the finish line. >> and each year there's an authorization that comes up, and
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each year, you know, you can write things in and make them law. i don't see how remaining silent by not acting in any way causes us to be any lessor remaining silent. again, i don't get the psychology, but i obviously need to understand it for us to be able to move ahead. senator menendez and then we will move to senator markey. >> mr. chairman, thanks for the opportunity. i understand your question. let me just give you a few cuts at it. >> okay. >> as you may remember, i didn't even want to move forward on the state authorization last time. >> i remember very well. >> i out of deference to the cherry yielded and stopped my objection on the floor. >> and i appreciate that. >> and we have worked together on many things, so this is not a -- not ideological issue, but it is for me one of the most critical things the committee can do, and how it does it is incredibly important. so, for example, in answer to
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your question how does waiting innewer innure to our benefit, if we were having legislation that was in creating certain parts of the state department in a mandatory firm versus a permissive form it does not innure to us. when we create permissive across the board, the second complicating factor in addition to i don't believe it should be permissive across the board is that the reorganization taking place by the secretary, such a permissive nature might be seen by some as giving it an okay. what you ended up doing is actually okay. for some of us, i think some of the things whether intended or nor not -- and i take your word because you have engaged with the secretary more than i have -- the internationals are good. i know that director mulvaney has a different view from the secretary, so he may be pushing
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that view from the administration's view. so it may not be the secretary's idea to collapse state into usaid. i don't want to be responsible for giving perimeters to things i have a fundamental problem with. the last point is, you know, the question of it will be far more difficult in my view, having sat where you have sat and having an administration of my party and standing up to it when i personally believed they were wrong on a policy basis, to challenge in next year's authorization, assuming you do this year's authorization, something that the administration will have done. so they structure the new department as they wish. they pursue their reorganization without any meaningful effort legislatively to construct what that should look like, and now once having done that members not only on this committee but on the senate as a whole will be
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put into a position, if they believe that reorganization or elements thereof were not appropriate, of challenging the administration to do that in a new -- in a new authorization bill. so that may not be a problem for the chair, because i recognize the chair's independence, but i have to be honest with you, i'm not sure that's everybody's case. so those are my -- when you ask me why wait, that's my perspective. >> i've glad to have this conversation. we're going to move to you in one second, senator markey. i would just say we're in that situation either way, you know, if we act in the next 60 days or we don't act in the next 60 days, we're in the same situation but we haven't bit it out further. i understand what you're saying about permissive versus mandatory, that's a point well-taken. but by not acting or acting we find ourselves in the same place when the timing of what they do is going to occur later on. but go ahead, senator. >> i just wanted to make one
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point to clarify that i support the reauthorization. in fact, i think this committee should have the same kind of process that the armed services has, where we do an authorization every year, it is debated, it goes to the floor and there's an understanding that it is going to be part of what we do annually, because i think what we need to do is to elevate the role of diplomacy in the state department. and having that kind of a process does that. so i'm totally in agreement with you on that, and we're just disagreeing about timing. >> yeah, that's fine. i move to senator markey by saying each year there seems to always come an issue, and i really appreciate both of you actually. i think last year on the floor you -- the two of you were actually somewhat resistant for different reasons. i appreciate you building out and allowing us to continue to build out, and i have shared with each of you and senator cardin, i don't come at this
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with any -- any ideology. i come at this with what you just said exactly. i want this committee to determine the policies that take place at state department and usaid.
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