A picture of Senator Dianne Feinstein
Dianne F.
Democrat CA

About Sen. Dianne
  • Executive Session

    by Senator Dianne Feinstein

    Posted on 2013-01-29

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    FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I rise today to express my strong support for the nomination of John Kerry to be our next Secretary of State.

    As a friend and colleague for more than 20 years, I can think of no one who is more qualified and better prepared to be our Nation's chief diplomat.

    He has the intelligence, judgment, compassion, determination, and above all, leadership experience to help the administration confront and find common sense solutions to the multitude of foreign policy challenges now before us.

    His story is well known to those of us who have worked side by side with him for so many years.

    The son of a distinguished foreign service officer, his understanding of the [[Page S349]] world and America's critical role in it began at an early age. He learned the value of American diplomacy and the indispensable role played by our diplomats here in Washington and at our consulates and embassies around the world.

    He served with distinction and honor in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star, a Silver Star, and three Purple Hearts. He saw first hand the costs of war, and he recognized that military force must be used wisely and only after all other options have been exhausted.

    After 2 years as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, he came to the Senate in 1985 and took his place on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, rising to the position of chairman in 2009.

    As a member of that committee and its leader, he demonstrated the qualities that will serve him well as Secretary of State.

    He did his homework, and he asked tough questions. He traveled the world and engaged key leaders, gaining their respect and confidence. He developed an admirable track record of listening carefully to both sides of an issue and developing the relationships on both sides of the aisle necessary to forge bipartisan agreements.

    From re-establishing diplomatic relations with Vietnam and organizing the ratification of the New START Agreement to managing our relationship with Pakistan and Afghanistan, fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and addressing the threat posed by climate change, Senator Kerry has clearly left his mark on United States foreign policy.

    As President Obama noted, ``John has played a central role in every major foreign policy debate for nearly 30 years.'' And that experience will serve him well as Secretary of State.

    Indeed, we live in challenging and constantly evolving times.

    We have ended the war in Iraq, and our mission in Afghanistan is winding down. But the threat of global terror endures.

    We have seen the Arab Spring topple autocrats and bring hope for a new future. But the ultimate fate of those countries and their commitment to democracy, human rights, and the rule of law remains uncertain.

    We have enacted a robust set of bilateral and multilateral sanctions on Iran and launched a diplomatic initiative through the P5+1 process, but its nuclear program continues.

    We have built a close and mutually beneficial relationship with China, but there are lingering questions about its human rights record and its growing military assertiveness, particularly in the South China Sea.

    And we have seen how our humanitarian and development assistance programs can lift people out of poverty in the developing world; yet nearly 2.5 billion people still live on less than $2 a day.

    These are just some of the items that will be on Senator Kerry's agenda as Secretary of State.

    I know he understands that in facing these challenges American leadership is essential but we will also need the help and cooperation of our friends, allies, and partners in the international community.

    I know he understands that the strength of this country lies not just in our military but in the power of our ideas.

    And I know he understands that in order for the United States to lead, we must maintain a strong and effective international affairs budget.

    We will certainly miss Senator Kerry's leadership and experience in the Senate. But I am heartened to know that he will continue to serve his country and bring those skills to the State Department, representing the United States around the world.

    I urge my colleagues to support Senator Kerry's nomination to be our next Secretary of State.

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