Democrats warn Tillerson to loop Congress in or face legislative blowback

“The department’s redesign, spending, and personnel moves are taking place largely behind closed doors and without the level of transparency we would expect,” the senators wrote to Secretary of Condition Rex Tillerson. | Virginia Mayo/Pool/AP Photo Democrats warn Tillerson to loop Congress in or deal with legislative blowback

Senate Democrats are demanding that Secretary of Condition Rex Tillerson lift a hiring freeze, nominate more candidates for vacant diplomatic slots and share much more detail with Congress about his intend to restructure the STATE DEPT..

If Tillerson doesn’t intensify his cooperation with Capitol Hill, the lawmakers warn, they’ll use legislation to force him.

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The demands were conveyed in a stern and lengthy letter to Tillerson dated Wednesday and signed by all 10 Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including ranking member Ben Cardin of Maryland.

The letter, shared first with POLITICO, is the latest sign of growing concern in Congress about the future of U.S. diplomacy under President Donald Trump. The missive likewise illustrates the developing unhappiness with Tillerson in Congress, where possibly some Republicans possess questioned the merits of his plans for the STATE DEPT..

In the letter, the Democrats nod to reports of sinking morale in the STATE DEPT., where many best officials possess quit and others possess sensed sidelined in the policy-making process since Tillerson took above in February.

“The department’s redesign, spending, and personnel moves are taking place largely behind closed doors and without the level of transparency we would expect,” the senators write. “Moreover, proposals which may have come to light lead us to issue if the intended result is in fact a more efficient section that remains to serve the passions of the American people and promote our overseas policy objectives abroad.”

The letter presses Tillerson to more often update lawmakers on his restructuring plan, including by offering a timeline for how long it will take. It also requests that Tillerson share copies of all of the restructuring plans he has given to the White House Business office of Management and Spending budget.

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The letter also notes that lawmakers have felt so in the dark that they have had to rely on media reports and other avenues to determine what Tillerson does.

For instance: “We have heard rumors that the section is considering ‘hybrid embassy’ or ‘regional embassy’ models and reorganizing embassies by ‘function,'” the Democrats be aware. “Yet, the section has provided few facts.”

Meanwhile, Tillerson should lift his freeze on hiring, special offers and transfers “given the uncertain timeline of the reorganization and the ongoing detrimental results the freeze is usually having” on workforce morale, the lawmakers express.

Tillerson’s work to streamline the Condition Department’s workforce of 75,000 partly through attrition also are questioned.

“We think that attrition as a technique for managing a workforce is usually problematic because it will not allow management to control for the skills, knowledge, and workforces that it actually needs. When dealing with national security, the potential costs of such a mismatch could be fatal,” the senators express.

In a recently available public appearance in Washington, Tillerson defended his restructuring plans and urged critics to ignore what he claimed were “false” reports about a depleted STATE DEPT.. He observed that he’s made more than 2,300 exceptions to the employing freeze and that vacant positions were being kept on an acting basis by capable career diplomats.

On Tuesday, throughout a gathering with U.S. diplomats in Brussels, Belgium, Tillerson promised there will be community halls kept by the finish of the year to update STATE DEPT. staffers on the progress of the restructuring approach.

While Tillerson acknowledged a few of the criticism he’s received, he added, “The STATE DEPT. is not missing a beat because we’re nonetheless working through the procedure.”

The Democrats’ letter also chides Tillerson for assigning senior staffers to clerical type roles such as processing public records requests, and it expresses frustration with the dearth of nominations set forth for a large number of ambassadorships and high-ranking posts based in Foggy Bottom.

“It is unclear whether these posts are unfilled by style or dysfunction; either way it really is deeply troubling,” the lawmakers publish. “We cannot confirm nominees who’ve not been nominated.”

The lawmakers request that Tillerson react to their concerns by Dec. 20. They also express that although they might prefer to utilize Tillerson and his aides, they are exploring “legislative options to handle these concerns.”

Such legislative maneuvering, congressional staffers have said during the past, could include using better and more certain language in various STATE DEPT. funding and authorization bills in what the secretary can and should do when it comes to hiring and reorganization.

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