Executive Sessionby Senator Bob Corker
Posted on 2013-01-29
CORKER. Madam President, I wish to thank the chairman for holding
the business meeting the way he held it today and the hearings last
week for this confirmation.
I know a lot of people think that because of the way partisan politics are here in Washington, sometimes we can't be happy for someone on the other side of the aisle when they do well. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I just want to say that I thought Senator Kerry acquitted himself exceptionally well in the hearings we had last week. I thought they were wide-ranging, and I think he had the opportunity to display the depth of knowledge he has on many issues. I don't know of anybody who has lived a life that has been more oriented toward ultimately being Secretary of State than John Kerry, and for that I also am happy for him and his family and the fact that very soon he is going to be able to express himself on behalf of our Nation in this way.
I think most of you know that his dad was a Foreign Service officer. I know that you know he certainly made a splash. Some people thought it was negative, some people, positive, but he certainly made a splash here during the Vietnam era and from that point on has been very, very active. So, again, I thought he acquitted himself exceptionally well.
There are four points I want to bring out. I know that he knows--and many of us have seen recently just because of some of the things that have happened in Libya--we have a State Department that needs some oversight, and we haven't provided it. Neither side of the aisle has provided it now for over a decade.
I know he sees the need for the Senate, through its authorization process--and the House doing the same--to be involved and to be partners with him as we try to cause this organization, which over the years has just built into a sporadic stovepipe entity, to be assisted. A lot of times when a political person comes into an organization, the bureaucracy tries to wait it out until the next person comes along. I don't think it can happen any more in any agency than it does in the State Department.
So I look forward to working with the chairman in whatever way he ends up deciding we are going to work together on this particular issue to really look at the State Department. I know Senator Kerry certainly welcomes that.
We most recently had a hearing with Senator Clinton on Benghazi, and there have been Accountability Review Board recommendations that have been put forth, and I know Senator Kerry has said he is certainly going to see those through and make sure they are fully implemented.
I know we talked a great deal in the hearing--and certainly we have done so personally--about our nuclear posture and nuclear modernization, which is a big part of what we discussed during the Start Treaty--something I supported and worked with him on--and I found his comments about where we need to be in that regard certainly reassuring.
I also think he is very clear-eyed as it relates to the threat we face as a nation, especially in north Africa now but in many places as it relates to terrorist groups such as al-Qaida. As a matter of fact, I look at Senator Kerry as a realist. While we have not always agreed on every issue, as the chairman just mentioned, I have always found him to be someone who is open to discussion. I think he wants only the best for our Nation. There is no question that as he moves ahead over the next several years, I am sure he will take positions that in some cases I and others--maybe Senator Menendez--may view as not exactly the course of action that ought to be taken on behalf of our country. But my sense is that he will be open to listening, and I think he will be willing to sit down and talk about that as we move ahead.
He came out of the committee today by voice vote unanimously. As the chairman mentioned, I think he is going to receive a very strong vote of support today here on the Senate floor. As the chairman mentioned, I think that it is good for our Nation, as he goes out across the world representing us, for people to understand that this is someone who received overwhelming support from the Senate.
All of us know we live in a dangerous world. We live in a world that is changing dramatically. We live in a world in which things come over the transom on a daily and weekly basis that are unexpected. I mean, we look at what is happening right now throughout the country of Egypt, which we might not have expected to occur a week ago. To have someone like Senator Kerry, who has spent a lifetime on these issues and understands the history and institutional issues that have bound us or separated us from these countries--having someone like him representing us will be a very good thing.
I join the chairman in supporting him. I know numbers of people will have comments regarding his service here in the Senate but also his future service, and I look forward to listening to that.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.