ICYMI: Shaheen Questions Secretary Blinken on Nord Stream II, Withdrawal from Afghanistan & Opening Canada Border

June 09, 2021

blinken hearing

(Washington, DC) – In case you missed it, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the only woman and a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he appeared before the committee yesterday to discuss the State Department Budget for Fiscal Year 2022.  

She began by pressing Secretary Blinken on a timeline to open the US-Canada border in light of challenges facing local Granite State businesses with economic ties and strained family relations across the border. She asked Blinken to commit to doing everything possible to open the border so normal business activities and relationships can resume – especially as the busy tourism season in New Hampshire approaches. 

She then asked for an update on the Department’s strategy regarding the Nord Stream II pipeline, raising concerns about Ukraine’s energy security and handing Russia another weapon to use against our allies and partners in Europe. She asked how the U.S. can support Ukraine if the pipeline becomes operational and how to best engage Germany to limit the damage the pipeline could cause.  

Shaheen concluded by asking how the U.S. can ensure the safety and rights of women and girls in Afghanistan as troops withdraw. She pressed Secretary Blinken on what steps the State Department is taking to provide for their safety once troops are entirely removed, and inquired about a point person within the department to coordinate with Afghan women leaders on these priorities. She noted yesterday’s Senate passage of her bipartisan resolution to condemn the deadly attack on the girls’ school in Kabul and urged a coordinate international response to hold the Taliban accountable.  

You can watch her full line of questioning here 

Shaheen co-authored Nord Stream 2-related legislation designed to halt construction of the pipeline in order to preserve Europe’s energy independence and prevent Vladimir Putin from spreading the Kremlin’s malign influence throughout the region. This bipartisan bill mandated targeted sanctions on vessels involved in installing Russia's Nord Stream 2 pipeline. It was signed into law in 2019 as part of the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. Shaheen built on her work in the FY21 NDAA that became law by adding a provision that further clarifies those sanctions, which target companies working with the Russian vessels sent to complete the pipeline. The Senator’s previous bipartisan effort led to a freeze in the construction of the pipeline. Shaheen and Menendez recently called on the Biden administration to advance the United States’ interests in Europe through a full diplomatic push to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Senator Shaheen has repeatedly fought to make the inclusion of Afghan women in ongoing negotiations a U.S. foreign policy priority. Senator Shaheen recently met virtually with women members of Afghanistan’s Parliament to discuss the rights and futures of women and girls in Afghanistan as the United States begins withdrawal. Shaheen also raised her concerns about the safety of women and girls amid the U.S. departure from Afghanistan with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, during a Senate Foreign Relations hearing recently. She also partnered with humanitarian and filmmaker Angelina Jolie on an op-ed in the Washington Post calling for a meaningful and comprehensive strategy to address the safety and security of women and girls in Afghanistan as the U.S. draws down its presence.    

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