April 28, 2021

Van Hollen Statement on Vote to Confirm Samantha Power to Lead USAID

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) entered the following statement into the Congressional Record on his vote to confirm Samantha Power to be the next Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development:

“Madam President, I rise to voice my strong support for the confirmation of Ambassador Samantha Power to be the next Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development. I am confident that she brings the talent, skill, and experience required of this office and is the right person to lead this pivotal agency at a critical point in America’s return to global leadership.

“Ambassador Power has worn many different hats throughout her sterling career – advocate, academic, advisor, and diplomat. But that trajectory has been propelled in large part by her time as a journalist, where she saw the day-to-day experiences of those living in places struggling against the tides of war, famine, genocide, and disease. She witnessed, first-hand, the tireless efforts of USAID Foreign Service officers working in partnership with local stakeholders to uplift and empower communities around the world. And those early experiences seeing the work of USAID and the challenges the agency faces continue to guide her path.

“Like Ambassador Power, I spent the early part of my career seeing global conflict up close. As a staffer working on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1988, I travelled to Iraq after Saddam Hussein used poison gas against the Kurdish people. It’s a trip that Ambassador Power recounts in her first book, A Problem from Hell, which won her the Pulitzer Prize in 2003 – and it’s a trip that animates so much of the work I do in the United States Senate.

“The world witnessed the horrific chemical weapons attacks on the Kurdish people in Halabja in March 1988 and later that year, together with my colleague, Peter Galbraith, I interviewed Kurdish survivors of other chemical attacks that followed. It was a heartrending journey that stays with me to this day. But that experience, like Ambassador Power’s experiences in Bosnia, East Timor, Darfur, West Africa, and elsewhere, instilled in me a sense of moral urgency that hasn’t tired in the three decades since – and I know hasn’t tired in Ambassador Power either.

“I’m confident that she’ll employ that sense of urgency in her new role as the Administrator of USAID, which bolsters peace and prosperity both in developing nations and here at home. The biggest threats that we face are interconnected and global – from climate change to cybersecurity to pandemics. As we’ve seen throughout the past year, viruses know no borders, and our ability to defeat COVID–19 depends upon our willingness to partner with other nations to stop the spread and mount a successful recovery. And as we reassert American values at the core of our foreign policy, we will also need to combat the Chinese government’s efforts to export its model of authoritarianism to governments in developing countries. USAID will be at forefront of these missions and others. In Ambassador Power’s own words, ‘‘Development is critical to America’s ability to tackle the toughest problems of our time—economic, humanitarian, and geopolitical.’’

“Madam President, there is no doubt in my mind that Ambassador Samantha Power will serve our country well as the next Administrator of USAID. I urge my colleagues to vote in favor of her confirmation.”