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Congressional Record2017/01/24Senate | House | Extensions

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[Pages S426-S430]
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                           EXECUTIVE SESSION

                                 F_____
                                 

                           EXECUTIVE CALENDAR

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the Senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations en bloc, which the clerk will report.

The senior assistant legislative clerk read the nominations of Nikki R. Haley, of South Carolina, to be the Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, and the Representative of the United States of America in the Security Council of the United Nations; and Nikki R. Haley, of South Carolina, to be Representative of the United States of America to the Sessions of the General Assembly of the United Nations during her tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America to the United Nations.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. There will now be 30 minutes of debate, equally divided in the usual form.

The Senator from South Carolina.

Mr. SCOTT. Mr. President, today I stand in support of my good friend and Governor, Nikki Haley, who has been nominated for the position of Ambassador to the United Nations. Simply put, Governor Haley is the right choice, and I could not be prouder to support her nomination. She has shown amazing leadership during very trying times in South Carolina, and I know that she will bring the same strength and resolve in reinforcing and [[Page S427]] strengthening our relationships with our allies.

As she showed through her confirmation hearing, Nikki is a strong, principled leader. During a time with so much international instability, we need a decisive and compassionate leader like Governor Haley representing our Nation. She is the type of visionary leader who will help turn the diplomatic tide of the past few years and reassure our allies that the United States stands in strong support of them.

Nikki has served the people of South Carolina very well, and she will be missed. But now, I look forward to addressing her by her new title-- Ambassador.

I yield the floor.

I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, I know we are going to vote here fairly soon, but I just want to address the body before the vote.

Nikki Haley is soon to be the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I believe with a very strong vote in the committee, 19 to 2. Senators Corker and Cardin did an excellent job of running the hearing. Governor Haley conducted herself very well. I know that, as Governor of South Carolina, she has brought us together at home.

She has dealt with some things that are incredibly difficult for any State. We had a thousand-year flood, and we had the tragedy in Charleston, with Dylann Roof shooting nine parishioners praying at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston. She handled these historic crises with dignity and grace. She was able to rally the State and remove the Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds.

All I can say is that the skill set she has of bringing people together I have seen. As she goes into this new job, she can learn the nuances of foreign policy, but diplomacy is something you either have or you don't. She is tough and determined, and I think she is very capable of being the United States' voice in the United Nations. As a matter of fact, I think she will represent us extremely well.

The bottom line is that her story is a uniquely American story-- immigrant parents coming to a small town in South Carolina. She said very pointedly: I was too light to be African American or Black, and I was too dark to be White. She is Indian American. She and her family have contributed greatly to our State.

I think all of us can be proud that Nikki Haley will soon be our voice and America's face in the United Nations. I think President Trump chose wisely. I look forward to helping her in her new job. I urge this body to support her nomination because I have seen her in action. I think she will represent us all very well.

I yield the floor.

Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, it has become fashionable, particularly among supporters of the Trump administration, to accuse the United Nations of just about everything. This is, however, nothing new. The U.N has been an easy target, especially for some Republicans, for a long time, because like any unwieldy international organization comprised of member states with very different priorities and interests it will probably never be as efficient or effective as we would like.

But there is simply no question that the U.N. serves many vital functions that are fully consistent with key U.S. interests and values. For that reason, it is essential that the U.S. continues to play a leadership role in the U.N., which we were instrumental in creating seven decades ago, in a manner that strengthens the institution.

At times, I have expressed my own frustrations with the U.N. It wastes inordinate amounts of time debating and adopting redundant resolutions that accomplish next to nothing. It has suffered from personnel policies that make it difficult if not impossible to fire underperforming employees. It pays its officials at rates that dwarf what many could earn in their own countries. It has been too slow to implement procedures to ensure transparency and accountability, including for whistleblowers who have suffered retaliation for exposing corruption and other misconduct.

So there is no dispute that the U.N. needs to do better. The new Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, knows this as well as anyone and he has made clear that he is going to do his best to put the institution on a road to real reform.

But, of course, he cannot do that by himself. He is empowered only to the extent that the U.N. member states, and particularly the permanent members of the Security Council, support him.

Attempts by past the Secretary Generals to implement reforms have been partly stymied by resistance from governments that prefer the status quo. While I believe the prospects for U.N.reform have never been better, that will not be possible without the active leadership and skillful diplomacy of the United States.

And that is where our U.N. Ambassador comes in.

I have known many of them, although I was only 7 years old in 1947 when Warren Austin of Vermont, nominated by President Truman, became our third U.N. Ambassador.

The position of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. has also been held by such accomplished people as Henry Cabot Lodge, Adlai Stevenson, George H.W. Bush, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Thomas Pickering, and Madeleine Albright. Each was recognized and widely admired across the political spectrum for his or her depth of foreign policy experience and wisdom.

Today we are considering the nomination of Nikki Haley to be the next U.S. Ambassador. Governor Haley's record as Governor of South Carolina was decidedly mixed, and I will not take time today to discuss that record. What is most relevant here, however, is her dearth of experience for the job she has been selected for. That is not so much a criticism of Governor Haley as it is of President Trump, as there are certainly well qualified, seasoned diplomats in the Republican Party who would be well received by members of both parties.

Instead, we are asked to support a nominee who will no doubt be confirmed but will be starting from square one. If there ever were a case of having to learn on the job, this will be it. That might not concern me if it were not for the indispensable role of the United Nations in an increasingly dangerous and polarized world, the importance of this position, and the complex challenges the next U.S. Ambassador will face on her first day on the job.

It was painfully apparent during her confirmation hearing that virtually everything Governor Haley said in her opening remarks and in her responses to questions of Senators, she had learned in the previous 2 months since she was chosen for the job. Her answers largely parroted popular Republican talking points with little substance to back up her response and revealed only an elementary understanding of how the U.N. functions. Her stated interest in U.N. reform is well placed, but it did not appear that she grasps what U.N. reform entails or what it takes to build the necessary support for reform.

Again, I do not blame her for that. Her career has focused entirely on issues relevant to the State of South Carolina. But that does not make her qualified to be our Ambassador to the U.N.

As Governor, she jumped on the politically expedient bandwagon and opposed the resettlement of any Syrian refugees in her State over “security concerns,” although it being a Federal decision some Syrians have been resettled there. In other words, she supported a blanket prohibition against an entire nationality of people--men, women, and children--regardless of the merits of their individual status as refugees fleeing war.

She stated, in spite of the fact that all of our major European allies supported the nuclear agreement with Iran, that Russia's and China's support was a “red flag,” without acknowledging the reality that without their support it would be impossible to achieve an agreement to halt Iran's nuclear weapons program or any of our other key objectives at the U.N.

She condemned the U.S. abstention on U.N. Security Council Resolution [[Page S428]] 2334 regarding Israeli settlements and incorrectly implied that it is inconsistent with longstanding U.S. policy and interests. In fact, she insisted that the resolution, not settlements themselves, makes peace negotiations more difficult--a view with which I disagree. She seemed to acknowledge that the U.S. does not support settlement construction, but stated that the U.S. should have vetoed the resolution anyway.

She mischaracterized U.S. law regarding our share of dues in support of U.N. peacekeeping missions that the U.S.--Republican and Democratic administrations--voted for, failing to acknowledge that we have a treaty obligation to pay 28.5 percent of U.N. peacekeeping costs. She made little mention of and gave little if any credit to the troop- contributing countries themselves, other than to highlight incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse. This is a critical issue that I and others here have been working with the U.S. Mission to the U.N. to address, and progress is being made in developing meaningful accountability procedures.

She stated that the cut-off of U.S. funding for UNESCO as a result of the vote of a majority of its members to accept Palestine as a member state, which led to our loss of influence, is a “good thing” and that she would continue to support the cut-off of funding. She and I disagree about that and what it could mean for the future. I think even the Israeli Government has come to recognize that it is better for the U.S. to be at the table, using our influence to deflect attempts to unfairly target Israel, than on the sidelines.

Governor Haley suggested that the U.S. may want to reconsider participation in and funding for the U.N. Human Rights Council, despite overwhelming evidence that our role serves to protect our interests and has reduced substantially the council's disproportionate and wasteful focus on Israel. At no time did she acknowledge the many council resolutions that are fully consistent with U.S. interests or that the influence lost by the U.S. is simply ceded to the very governments she opposes having a say in the council.

On the other hand, Governor Haley did repeatedly reject what she described as “slash and burn” tactics when it comes to budget cutting, and on that, I fully agree with her.

She said she supports moving our embassy to Jerusalem, although there is no compelling need to do so, it is strongly opposed by our ally Jordan, would likely incite a violent reaction in Arab countries, and could do more to drive a nail in the coffin of what little remains of the Middle East peace process than anything else.

In responses to written questions she betrayed a serious lack of understanding about Cuba, its economy, and the failures of the 55-year- old U.S. embargo. Indeed, if she were to apply her answers regarding Cuba to other countries with repressive governments, we would have to close dozens of U.S. Embassies, end diplomatic relations, and impose ineffective, unilateral sanctions against each of them.

I urge Governor Haley, as our U.N. Ambassador, to listen to the overwhelming majority of Americans and Cubans, including many Republican Members of Congress, who support a policy of engagement. I urge her to travel to Cuba and see and hear for herself, unlike those who continue to favor a Cold War embargo that has been exploited by the Cuban Government to justify its repressive policies and that has hurt the Cuban people.

I have been a congressional delegate to the United Nations three times, after being nominated by Presidents of both Republican and Democratic parties. I appreciated that opportunity because I have long believed that it is in the strong interest of the United States to play an active, leadership role in the U.N.

That is only possible if we, by far the world's wealthiest country, meet our financial commitments. And it is only possible if we build coalitions through skillful diplomacy and refrain from the tactics that some critics of the U.N. advocate, such as bullying and ultimatums, which are often self-defeating.

I recognize that Governor Haley will be confirmed, and I wish her the best. I hope she becomes a great U.S. Ambassador. I urge her to seek out and listens to a wide range of views, particularly on controversial issues like the Middle East, Iran, and how the U.S. can best help make the U.N. work better for everyone.

I will do everything I can to support Secretary General Guterres, the budget of the U.S. Mission to the U.N., and funding for U.N. agencies like the World Food Program, the U.N. Development Program, UNICEF, the U.N. Environment Program, the U.N. Population Fund, U.N. Women, the U.N. Voluntary Fund for Victims of Torture, and so many others that carry out lifesaving humanitarian and development programs around the world.

And if there are other ways that I can help soon-to-be Ambassador Haley to defend the values and effectively advance the interests of the United States at the U.N. and to bring about needed reforms I will gladly do so.

Mr. VAN HOLLEN. Mr. President, in 1945, at the close of World War II, the 50 Allied nations formed the United Nations to help prevent another world war. Since its founding, the U.N. has grown to 193 nations. While it has many serious flaws, it has been an important tool for promoting peace, protecting human rights, providing humanitarian assistance, and safeguarding the environment.

U.S. Ambassadors to the U.N. have included some of America's leading figures, including Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., Adlai Stevenson, Arthur Goldberg, George H.W. Bush, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Andrew Young, Madeleine Albright, Bill Richardson, and John Danforth. President Eisenhower raised the ambassadorship to cabinet rank. Although both Presidents Bush removed the position from Cabinet level, President Obama restored it to that level. I am pleased that President Trump has decided to keep it there.

The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. must advance principles that the United States has promoted over the years--the rule of law, individual liberties, and human rights. Our ambassador must not only maintain, but strengthen our relationships with our allies.

Unlike many past ambassadors to the U.N., Governor Nikki Haley has little experience in foreign policy. But as Governor, she developed important experience building coalitions, and that skill should serve her well as ambassador to the U.N.

Some positions that Governor Haley took during her confirmation hearing give me pause. For example, Governor Haley made some statements about the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement that indicated unfamiliarity with the joint comprehensive plan of action. I am pleased, however, that Governor Haley distanced herself from some of President Trump's most divisive positions, and I will support her nomination.

Mr. GRAHAM. I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. CARDIN. Mr. President, shortly we will be voting on the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. She went through her confirmation hearings at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and I had a chance during those confirmation hearings to ask her a series of questions. I have also had an opportunity to meet with her and talk personally about her vision of the United Nations and the United States' role in how she would conduct her leadership at the United Nations.

I must say, originally there was some concern because of her lack of foreign policy experience, but I must tell you, I was extremely impressed about her competency as Governor of South Carolina--the work that she did, dealing with some very difficult issues, including a tragedy that occurred in her State, as well as dealing with the Confederate flag and removing it from the State Capitol.

She handled these issues with real professionalism and sensitivity to all communities, and during her confirmation hearing, she displayed a willingness to reach out, to understand more about world affairs, and to become fully knowledgeable in these areas. She [[Page S429]] exercised, I thought, a commitment and passion for the commitments that are important to this country--good governance, human rights, and democracy.

I was impressed during the confirmation hearing about her commitment to the importance of the United Nations and the important work that it does. The United Nations, as we all know, does do work as peacekeepers to try to avoid conflicts but also does an incredible job on humanitarian needs with refugee assistance, as well as the sustainable development goals that provide help to people around the world, increasing maternal health, reducing infant mortality, dealing with women's education needs. These original Sustainable Development Goals-- originally the Millennium Development Goals, now the Sustainable Development Goals--have saved millions of lives.

I must tell you, Governor Haley was very mindful of this and very committed to the United Nations and the work that it does and the U.S. participation in the United Nations. She recognized that it is important that we engage the international community in the work that is done within the United Nations.

When she was questioned about whether she thought it was a good idea to slash funds to the United Nations in order to make a point about votes that we thought were unpopular, she said no. She opposed that slash-and-burn strategy; we need to engage and find ways to leverage our participation to get more favorable results.

I might tell you, she was very strong about her sensitivity that the United Nations has not been fair to one of our key allies, Israel, and she would be a strong voice to make sure those types of issues are dealt with and the United States uses all the tools at its disposal to fight against those types of bias and prejudice within the United Nations.

We have talked a great deal in our committee about moral clarity from our nominees, so there is no misunderstanding anywhere in the world that the United States stands for human rights, that the United States stands against abuses that take place around the world, and that it will fight for democracy in all parts of the world and support those causes through our diplomacy, through our development assistance, through our tools.

She was very clear about the moral certainty issue. Just to give a few examples, we talked a great deal about Russia and its conduct and what it is doing in the United States about the attack on our free election system. She was very clear about how outraged she was with that type of conduct--what Russia has done in Ukraine, its occupation of Crimea. She acknowledged that Crimea is not Russian, that it belongs to Ukraine, and she spoke very strongly about defending Ukraine's rights and sovereignty.

We talked specifically about what was happening in Syria and Russia's support for the Assad regime and the atrocities that have taken place in that country, most recently in Aleppo. When we asked if she would characterize that type of conduct as war crimes, without any equivocation she said: Absolutely--that this was a matter that required international accountability.

I also brought up with her what was happening in the Philippines, one of our allies, where the President of the Philippines, Mr. Duterte, has done extrajudicial killings and how she would characterize that as gross violations of human rights. She agreed that type of conduct cannot be tolerated, that we need to speak to whether they are friend or foe when they commit this type of conduct, that this is wrong and the United States must stand up for our principles. I was impressed by the way that she spoke to those types of issues.

One of the more telling questions that we asked was whether she would support any registry for any subgroup of ethnic or religious Americans, and she said: Absolutely not.

We had, I thought, moral clarity in her response to some of the most important questions. I think all of us feel that she has the passion to represent the United States and our views well at the United Nations.

What was particularly important to us is how she would speak out to power within the United Nations; that she had no problem in dealing with Mr. Putin and calling his conduct exactly what it was and would not be intimidated by Mr. Putin saying “Well, you need me for some other issue”; that we have to be clear that we will not tolerate that type of conduct that violates basic human rights.

She gave us confidence that, on behalf of the American people, she would speak up in the Cabinet room with Mr. Trump and the Cabinet as to these values. For all those reasons, it was a comfortable vote for me to support her nomination and confirmation.

I do want to relay the fact that she does represent the American story. She is a daughter of immigrants who came to this country at great risk in order to seek a better life for their children. She experienced some of the discrimination against immigrant communities as she grew up in this country and tried to participate in the business and political sphere. She overcame all of those types of challenges and is extremely sensitive, I think, to all the needs of Americans.

For all those reasons, I am proud to recommend her to our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I hope we will support her confirmation. I think she is the right person now to represent us at the United Nations. For all those reasons, I will support her nomination.

With that, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I am going to speak only for a few minutes so that we can have the vote occur at 5:30, on time. I wanted to say that I am pleased to be here to support Governor Nikki Haley as our Ambassador to the United Nations.

The United Nations is at a crossroads and really needs someone who is very reform-minded for the United States to lead our efforts in that regard. That not only would benefit U.S. interests, but candidly it would benefit the world. She is someone who has shown that ability as Governor of South Carolina.

She also has a clarity about her as it relates to representing U.S. interests. People on both sides of the aisle in our committee were able to recognize that her instincts relative to where the United States needs to be on certain issues--I think most of us understand that the United States leading on issues of human rights, leading on issues of conscience, that the American values we all hold dear and want to promote around the world are things that she has the ability to communicate and cares deeply about, and I think people were very impressed.

The United Nations has multiple issues relative to peacekeeping that have not been addressed. Sexual exportation and abuse by peacekeepers have been rampant, and things have not been done in that regard to curtail that activity or at least not in the ways that they should, and I know she is very passionate about that issue.

There is no question that she is not the most adept person at foreign policy. She would be the first person to say that. She has spent most of her time out of the country solely on economic development trips. I think where the United Nations is today is at a place where we need a really driven person who cares about our own U.S. national interests but also has the ability to break through the clutter and reform.

She has worked with legislators to bring people together, to make that happen in her own State. She has had an exemplary record in that regard. My guess is that is really the first effort that needs to take place. Over time, through the relationships she develops there, the travel that will take place, I am absolutely certain--especially with the drive that she has--she will develop some of the other capacity that I know she will want to utilize there at the United Nations.

I am here to recommend her. I look forward to supporting her. Our committee did so in a voice vote with only two dissents.

In spite of the fact that I am disappointed that we are handling our Secretary of State in a manner that is not in keeping with bipartisan precedent, and in spite of the fact that we [[Page S430]] are not going to handle that in a way that we should and could today, through a vote on that, I am appreciative of the minority leader allowing this vote to take place today, and I am glad she is going to be confirmed overwhelmingly as our United Nations Ambassador.

With that, I yield the floor.

The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Rubio). Under the previous order, the question is, Will the Senate advise and consent to the Haley nominations en bloc?

Mr. CORKER. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second?

There appears to be a sufficient second.

The clerk will call the roll.

The senior assistant legislative clerk called the roll.

The result was announced--yeas 96, nays 4, as follows: [Rollcall Vote No. 33 Ex.] YEAS--96 Alexander Baldwin Barrasso Bennet Blumenthal Blunt Booker Boozman Brown Burr Cantwell Capito Cardin Carper Casey Cassidy Cochran Collins Corker Cornyn Cortez Masto Cotton Crapo Cruz Daines Donnelly Duckworth Durbin Enzi Ernst Feinstein Fischer Flake Franken Gardner Gillibrand Graham Grassley Harris Hassan Hatch Heitkamp Heller Hirono Hoeven Inhofe Isakson Johnson Kaine Kennedy King Klobuchar Lankford Leahy Lee Manchin Markey McCain McCaskill McConnell Menendez Merkley Moran Murkowski Murphy Murray Nelson Paul Perdue Peters Portman Reed Risch Roberts Rounds Rubio Sasse Schatz Schumer Scott Sessions Shaheen Shelby Stabenow Sullivan Tester Thune Tillis Toomey Van Hollen Warner Warren Whitehouse Wicker Wyden Young NAYS--4 Coons Heinrich Sanders Udall

The nominations were confirmed.

The PRESIDING OFFICER. Under the previous order, the motions to reconsider are considered made and laid upon the table and the President will be immediately notified of the Senate's action.

The majority leader. ____________________



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