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Shaheen Questions Secretary of State & Secretary of Defense Nominees in Committee Confirmation Hearings

**Shaheen is a senior member of both the Senate Foreign Relations & Senate Armed Services Committees**

**Shaheen met with both Blinken and Austin last month to discuss critical national security priorities under the next administration**

Shaheen questions Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken during a confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill this afternoon.

(Washington, DC) – Earlier today, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) questioned Secretary of State nominee Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense nominee Lloyd Austin during confirmation hearings before the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees. Shaheen is a senior member of both committees, and during her questioning, raised a number of top national security policies that she believes should be addressed under the next administration, as well as key priorities related to New Hampshire’s role in support of our national defense.

“Our nation is facing greater security threats today – at home and abroad – than ever before. The Biden administration must seek to undo the four years of damage done by the Trump administration, from rebuilding our relationships with allies to re-engaging in international agreements and finally holding an adversarial Russia accountable for its belligerence – there is urgent work ahead,” said Shaheen.

On the confirmation hearing of Antony Blinken, Shaheen said, “I appreciated the opportunity to hear more from Antony Blinken on how he’ll rebuild the State Department and prioritize the women and men who serve our country at embassies and consulates around the world and here at home. There is an urgent need for the incoming administration to emphasize diplomacy with our allies, partners and the multilateral institutions with which we have long engaged. The U.S. must be a nation that supports democracy and condemns authoritarianism, including in Russia, where opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested on Sunday for daring to return to his country. I look forward to working with the Biden administration on the issues that will return the U.S. to global leadership, which is why I asked Mr. Blinken to prioritize robust diplomacy, gender-conscious policy-making and the rights of women and minorities in ongoing negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban. I also asked Mr. Blinken to focus on uncovering and confronting the causation of “Havana Syndrome” which has caused mysterious brain injuries among U.S. public servants. In the hearing today, we only scratched the surface on the many foreign policy issues that must be addressed by the next administration. I look forward to continuing this conversation and helping President Biden – and hopefully Secretary of State Blinken – to advance these priorities.”

On the confirmation hearing of Lloyd Austin, Shaheen said, “I was glad to have the opportunity to build on my conversation with Lloyd Austin since our meeting last month, and to learn more about how he’ll lead the Pentagon during a particularly precarious time for our nation. His responses to how he would prioritize women’s roles in peace and conflict negotiations were particularly encouraging to hear. I was also pleased by his commitment to carefully evaluate the role of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to ensure hard-fought gains in the region are not lost by the Trump administration’s unconditioned, hasty drawdown. Additionally, I appreciated General Austin’s attention to New Hampshire’s important role in support our national defense, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and especially with regard to Pease, which was the Air Force’s first Air National Guard KC-46 main operating base. Getting the KC-46 aircraft online must be a priority and I will work with the administration to push Boeing to see this through.”

Shaheen continued, “In our initial conversation, and during the confirmation hearing, General Austin provided repeated assurances that he’ll safeguard civilian control of the military, which is absolutely critical. Reflecting on our personal meeting and the information provided this afternoon, I have decided that as I did with General Mattis, I will support a waiver to allow him to serve in this civilian capacity. The Secretary of Defense position carries immense responsibilities and requires experience, skill and determination to match the scope of the threats before us. I believe Lloyd Austin has what it takes to provide the Department the leadership it needs to face down these challenges, which is why I plan to support his nomination.”

Shaheen met last month with both Blinken and Austin, respectively. Video of Shaheen’s questioning of Antony Blinken can be viewed here and her questioning of Lloyd Austin can be viewed here.