Full Committee Hearing Review of the FY 2019 State Department Budget Request
Secretary of State
Second, also in the last 48 hours there, we notified our workforce in China about a medical incident that took place there, in Guangzhou. We had an officer who suffered a medical incident that is consistent with what we had happen to American officers that were serving in Havana. We informed the Chinese government about that. They took – they said all the right things, and are – have demonstrated their willingness to help us identify the vector which led to this medical incident. We have medical teams heading there. We have all the appropriate folks heading to help all of the officers, American officers, serving there in China and doing the things we can to mitigate the risk that we have another incident like this there or, frankly, for that matter, anyplace else in the world.
And then thirdly, my first three and a half weeks we have taken steps to allow our team to go effectively conduct their jobs, to – to actual announcements. We allowed the team to hire family members, a very ready source of very capable officers to serve alongside our – my current colleagues. We think that will help our families a great deal. And then the hiring freeze itself was lifted.
Senator Menendez, you said some of the bureaus aren’t hiring. We still have a little bit of guidance that needs to be issued, but most of that is now out. We have end-strength goals. We have a plan for how we’ll do that in a thoughtful way so that resources are expanded appropriately. But know that it is now the case that where our demand signals we need additional talent, the State Department employees are empowered to bring those additional team members on board.
The third piece is I have spent a fair amount of my time personally and have big teams working to get America’s senior officials on board. There are still big gaps at the assistant secretary level, at the under secretary level. We are – where there were nominees, we’re pushing to make sure they move quickly. And where there weren’t, we’re working to develop nominees to come across so that we can in fact engage all over the world, sharing American ideals and values in the way that the State Department has done historically well. And I look forward to being the leader of the organization that’s back on the playing field leading America’s diplomacy abroad.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I’ll yield back.