WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa has added to the number of State Department nominees on whom he intends to place a hold, citing a continued lack of responsiveness to his inquiries regarding what should be the public’s business.
“I will object because, in addition to the multiple inquiries I’ve made that are still unanswered, I sent another letter to the State Department today and the Department has failed to confirm receipt, yet again,” Grassley said late Wednesday in his statement announcing the holds. “In addition, my staff placed multiple phone calls to Department personnel to inquire as to the status of the most recent letter. Department personnel have failed even to return phone calls.”
Grassley said the new holds on 20 nominees for Foreign Service Officer positions come after he put the State Department on notice that if it failed to become more responsive, he would be forced to place holds on Foreign Service Officer candidates. “My objection is not intended to question the credentials of the individuals up for appointment,” Grassley said. “However, the department must recognize that it has an obligation to respond to congressional inquiries in a timely and reasonable manner.”
Earlier, Grassley announced he intends to object to any unanimous consent request to consider the nomination of David Malcolm Robinson to be Assistant Secretary for Conflict and Stabilization Operations and Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization when the nomination reaches the Senate floor. The objection comes over the agency’s poor responsiveness to questions about personnel practices and conflict of interest management and proper email use and management. In addition to stymieing Congress, the State Department also has withheld information from outside entities such as the Associated Press
Since June 2013, Grassley has sought answers from the State Department on its use of the Special Government Employee designation. Grassley has written numerous letters to the State Department on these concerns and other related matters, adding questions as new developments warrant, such as Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of and top aide Huma Abedin’s alleged use of private email for official purposes. The State Department has been largely unresponsive.
Grassley’s statement for the Senate record on his new holds is available here.