the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

Search form

Senate Delays Hurting Our National Security

Summary: 
Keeping our country secure and our citizens safe is more difficult, and our stature abroad is weakened, when we are not fielding a full team. The Senate needs to let the President’s qualified ambassadorial nominees get to work on behalf of the American people.

As the President’s National Security Advisor, I am focused every day on keeping our country secure and our citizens – at home and abroad – safe. But these goals are hindered and our stature abroad is weakened when we are not fielding a full team. That’s why I urge the Senate to let the President’s qualified ambassadorial nominees get to work on behalf of the American people.

Right now, 48 nominees for ambassador are pending and 26 are on the Executive Calendar and eligible for confirmation by the full Senate – 16 of whom are career Foreign Service Officers. Together, all ambassadorial nominees have been waiting an average of 161 days, while those on the Executive Calendar have been waiting an average of 262 days. This is simply too long.

These crucial posts are vacant and American interests are therefore underrepresented. The longer we wait to fill these roles the harder it becomes to maintain our effective American diplomacy.

Consider:

  • Kuwait borders Iraq and is a vital strategic partner that requires the highest level engagement given the current situation. Yet our post there remains without an ambassador. Now more than ever, it is crucial that our ambassador to the State of Kuwait is confirmed.
  • In Africa, a quarter of our ambassadors are awaiting Senate confirmation. And in combating regional instability and serious challenges such as Boko Haram, key partners including Niger, Cameroon, and Mauritania – as well as our delegation to the African Union – need ambassadors in place now. And with the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit planned for later this summer, it’s crucial that we display our commitment to partnering with leaders from across the continent for the good of Africa and the United States.
  • ASEAN will play a crucial role in the East Asia Summit in November 2014, which the President will attend. Substantively and organizationally, we need an ambassador in place to lay the groundwork for a successful Summit. We need a leading voice in our seat at the ASEAN table as tensions in the region have escalated surrounding China’s actions in the South China Sea.

These are only a few of many reasons it is critical to our national security that America fields a full team in our global engagement. The qualified individuals nominated to serve our country need to be confirmed without delay and allowed to do their important work leading our complex and vital interagency teams that are working to protect American interests around the world.

While there is a potential path to confirmation without bipartisan support, our nation's security is stronger when we act together, and so I call on all members of the Senate to agree to confirm these nominees today so we can get them in place now.