The Foreign Service Journal - January/February 2018

20 JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2018 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL I feel like I have been asking “Why?” of the administration and the State Department on a lot of issues lately, including the myriad personnel, budget and reorganization mat- ters, [and] I’m not getting a lot of answers. Just as one small example: although the Trump administration lifted the federal hiring freeze in April 2017, the State Depart- ment (and USAID) has elected to keep its own hiring freeze in place—why? … If this is the sort of high-level decapi- tation of leadership were going on at the Defense Department, … I can guarantee you that Congress would be up in arms, yet here there is silence—why? The State Department and USAID are, I would offer, every bit as vital and critical an element to our national security as our Department of Defense, the intelligence community, law enforcement and a myriad of others in the federal government who work tirelessly every day to protect our security, expand our prosperity and promote our values. Folks, this situation is alarming . We put our country in danger when we do not have adequate voice and resources to all of our country’s national security tools. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once said, “In a turbulent and perilous world, the men and women of the Foreign Service are the front lines, every day, on every continent, for us.” This committee needs to continue to press this issue. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we have the diplomatic assets in place in order to represent our national security. —Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, Nov. 14, 2017. America’s diplomatic power is being weakened internally as complex, global crises are growing externally. These deci- sions ultimately will not only degrade the United States’ lead- ership role in the world, but will also impact our constituents who have come to rely on the Foreign Service to keep them safe while traveling overseas; to provide timely information and guidance in the event of a manmade or natural disaster overseas; and to lead our diplomatic efforts to address a myriad of international challenges, including emerging nuclear crises, the threat of war and out- breaks of global pandemics. —Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), in a Nov. 15, 2017, letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Let me just say we had a very unsatisfactory meeting last week with the State Depart- ment, our two staffs did. I think the con- cerns about the State Department are bipartisan in nature. I don’t think they’re anywhere close to having a plan to present relative to the reforms they want to make there, and I do think that we need to be much more focused on hold- ing them accountable. —Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, Nov. 14, 2017. As members [of Congress] particularly focused on Ameri- can engagement abroad, we believe strong, direct engagement with key actors who deliver and support U.S. development and assistance abroad is critical—translating lessons learned into policy that makes aid as effective and efficient as possible. To that end, we ask that youmake the State/USAID redesign proposal publicly available to enable a full discussion of the proposed changes with Congress and the development com- munity. … A well-thought-out development strategy, combined with effective engagement with Congress and the development com- munity, will help to ensure that the tangible impacts of proposed structural changes on U.S. strategic interests are well known. —Representatives Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) and Adam Smith (D-Wash.), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus for Effective Foreign Assistance, and a bipartisan group of 67 other members of Congress, in a letter to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Nov. 6, 2017. Heard on the Hill JOSH