Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding today’s votes to confirm a pair of critical Department of Defense nominees including top Russia expert Celeste Wallander, despite obstruction from a Senate Republican. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:
Later today, the Senate is scheduled to advance and confirm a pair of critical Department of Defense nominees. One of them is Celeste Wallander, nominated to serve as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.
A veteran of the National Security Council, Ms. Wallander is one of our country’s top Russian experts and a deeply experienced foreign policy advisor.
As tensions persist in Eastern Europe, Ms. Wallander’s expertise is urgently needed and her nomination must be approved as soon as possible.
Frankly, it should have happened weeks ago, the moment she was reported out of committee with support from both sides.
But Ms. Wallander has remained on hold because one member of this body—just one Republican—has objected to her swift passage.
Intentionally delaying the confirmation of a qualified expert on Russian affairs at a time like this is supremely reckless and is making the American people less safe. For a member of the Senate to insist on this hold is a clear risk to our national security and it only serves to undermine our defense efforts. It is unacceptable and the definition of cynical.
Let me say it again: to intentionally delay the confirmation of a critical Department of Defense nominee and a Russian expert—at a time when tensions persist in Ukraine and Eastern Europe—is supremely reckless and is making the American people less safe.
But while this nominee has been delayed, she will nonetheless be confirmed by this chamber. The vast majority of Senators understand that certain nominees are out of bounds from typical partisan politics.
So we are going to do our jobs and confirm this nominee. And as long as Republican holds continue on a vast number of other important nominations, the Senate will keep voting as long as it takes to get them through the chamber. If it means voting late as we have done in recent weeks, then that is what we must do.
I will return later to join with my colleagues to speak further on the increasingly reckless holds – holds that damage our security both domestic and national – that we are seeing on the other side.