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Benjamin C.
Democrat MD

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  • Nomination of Antony Blinken to Be Deputy Secretary of State

    by Senator Benjamin L. Cardin

    Posted on 2014-12-16

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    CARDIN. Mr. President, I greatly respect Senator Hatch and his respect for the integrity of our system. I know he is acting with his sincere beliefs, but I am disappointed and I need to say that.

    The inspector general's report is a serious investigation. It involves episodes that took place during the previous administration in which the Commissioner was appointed by a Republican. There is no indication at all of Carolyn Colvin being the subject of the investigation.

    In fact, she has tried to take steps to be totally open and transparent about what has happened and has been totally forthcoming with our committee, the Ways and Means Committee, in providing information.

    I wish to stress what Senator Mikulski said about the urgency of this matter. If we don't confirm her during the lameduck session, it will be more than 2 years that the Social Security Administration has operated without a [[Page S6887]] confirmed Commissioner. This is one of the most important agencies in the government.

    As an Acting Commissioner, she cannot appoint her key team in order to carry out the responsibilities of the Social Security Administration. The morale of the agency is very much impacted when you can't get a confirmed Commissioner. Quite frankly, the Senate Finance Committee recommended her appointment 3 months ago, and as Senator Hatch pointed out, it was a 22-to-2 vote. The vote in the Senate Finance Committee at that time was not even close, and now we cannot get her confirmed.

    As Senator Mikulski pointed out, we know Carolyn Colvin. She started out as a stenographer clerk at the Social Security Administration in the 1960s while working her way through college. She went on to become the Deputy Commissioner, carrying out major responsibilities.

    Her passion has always been for public service. She was the secretary for human resources for the State of Maryland. She knows State; she knows Federal. Her whole life has been devoted to public service. She is a very honorable person and is dedicated to leading the Social Security Administration.

    We have some very critical issues in the next Congress, and we may have some different views on some of those issues, but that is what this Senate is about--to debate those issues. But we need to have a confirmed Commissioner in place to help us sort through the challenges we face. Tens of millions of Americans depend upon the Social Security system. They demand accountability, not just from us but from the agency. How can you have accountability if you don't have a confirmed Commissioner? All I can say is we have a qualified person who has gone through the process and has been recommended by the committee. She has all the talent, commitment, and drive to do the job, and it looks like we are not going to be able to get this person confirmed. If we don't confirm her now, we will have to wait until the next Congress and start all over again, and we don't know how long that will take.

    I appreciate Senator Hatch's willingness to work with us, and I know we will work together on this issue. Senator Hatch has always been an honorable person--and I very much appreciate that--to work with on so many different issues, but I have to express to my colleagues my deep disappointment that we cannot get this nomination up for a vote.

    I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Georgia.

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