WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Select Committee On Intelligence, voted against the confirmation of Rex Tillerson to serve as U.S. Secretary of State. During a speech on Senate floor before the vote, Heinrich questioned Tillerson's lack of diplomatic experience, his potential conflicts of interest, and his ability to stand up to President Trump's isolationist and dangerous foreign policy actions.
Below are Heinrich's remarks as prepared for delivery:
Since President Trump was inaugurated, he has unveiled a series of damaging and truly un-American executive orders.
In particular, the executive order banning refugees and individuals from Muslim-majority countries from entering our country.
For President Trump and his team, it is a projection of an inward looking, isolationist vision for America.
For many New Mexicans, myself included, it is also seen as an attempt to fundamentally change our American values.
We are not a country that discriminates based on how you pray.
We are not a nation that turns our back on the innocent victims of terrorism or the allies who risked their own lives so that American soldiers might live.
President Trump's actions seek to turn us into the kind of authoritarian nation that we have always stood against.
He has promoted this dark vision instead of asserting America's longstanding role as a voice for democracy, freedom, human rights, the environment, tolerance, and respect for women; values which extend far beyond our shores.
In essence, this selfish and bully-like mentality abandoned the values that we hold dear and which have defined our great nation as a global power.
It should come as no surprise that President Trump's nominees to be our nation's top diplomats-Nikki Haley and Rex Tillerson- have no diplomatic experience.
On Nikki Haley's first day on the job, President Trump announced he'd be cutting United Nations funding by 40 percent, and Ambassador Haley announced to the world that the United States is "taking names" of those who disagree with us.
In an attempt to "show strength," the Trump Administration is actually creating weakness.
By stepping away from multinational organizations that we helped establish, like the U.N. and NATO, and by presenting a hostile attitude to other countries, the United States is walking away from its role as the indispensable nation.
This morning, former CIA Director retired Gen. David Petraeus warned that the U.S. global alliances are at risk, stating:
"Americans should not take the current international order for granted. It did not will itself into existence. We created it.
"Likewise, it is not naturally self-sustaining. We have sustained it. If we stop doing so, it will fray and, eventually, collapse."
Just as I am not confident in President Trump's nominee for Ambassador to the United Nations, I'm equally concerned, if not more concerned, about his choice for Secretary of State.
During his Senate confirmation hearing, Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, demonstrated he is blatantly unaware of global affairs.
He also failed to recognize and condemn human rights violations around the world, including in Saudi Arabia and the Philippines, and declared dangerous policy positions without knowing what those policies would actually mean.
In his hearing, Mr. Tillerson repeatedly avoided answering rudimentary questions about foreign policy by stating things like:
"I'd need more information on that issue."
For as long as I can remember, throughout grade school and college, women in Saudi Arabia have lacked basic freedoms.
And yet, Mr. Tillerson either had no knowledge of women's issues in Saudi Arabia or fails to value the importance of that issue, which is an American value.
The United States faces an increasing number of global threats--including North Korea, Russia, China, Iran, and terrorist organizations across several continents.
We face evolving threats from non-state actors and terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State.
Instability and civil war in the Middle East have led to the greatest global refugee crisis since World War II.
Russia and China are acting aggressively to assert their influence and challenge and provoke American interests and allies.
And global threats such as pandemic disease, nuclear proliferation, and climate change require international cooperation and response.
The next Secretary of State will be diving headfirst into all of these incredibly daunting and gravely important foreign policy challenges.
Mr. Tillerson's lack of foreign policy experience combined with a President who promotes an isolationist world view leaves me deeply concerned for the future of American foreign policy.
The world looks to America to uphold human rights, to promote democratic values, and take the lead on the many challenges we face as an international community.
And the American people look to the White House and the State Department to represent our fundamental American values on the international stage.
The American people expect their leaders to show that their only interest is in representing the public's best interests.
Americans have reason to doubt where Rex Tillerson's interests rest.
His world view has been shaped through the lens of looking out for what is best for his company's profits.
Not for what is best for the American people.
Not for what is best to address complex international challenges.
Just like negotiating real estate deals does not prepare you to lead the nation, negotiating oil deals does not prepare you to be a diplomat whose primary interest is advocating for American values.
When Mr. Tillerson has worked with foreign governments to pursue lucrative oil deals and profits, he has been agnostic to human rights, and to America's diplomatic and security interests.
As Exxon's CEO, during the Iraq War Mr. Tillerson undermined the State Department's efforts to keep Iraq a cohesive nation, and instead served the interest of his company's financial gain.
Under Mr. Tillerson's guidance, ExxonMobil signed a deal directly with the Kurdish administration in the country's northern region, a move that fueled Kurdish secessionist ambitions and undercut the legitimacy of Iraq's central government.
This deal was drawn despite the State Department's recommendation that they wait until national legislation was passed, because a law governing nationwide oil investments was being reviewed in parliament.
In Russia, Mr. Tillerson worked closely with Vladimir Putin's government to forge deals to drill for oil in the Arctic, the Black Sea, and Siberia.
Mr. Tillerson developed such a cozy relationship with the Kremlin that in 2013, he was awarded the "Order of Friendship" by Putin, the highest honor awarded to non-Russians.
After Russia unlawfully invaded the Ukraine and took Crimea, the United States and the European Union enacted sanctions against Russia that Mr. Tillerson would be partly responsible for overseeing as Secretary of State.
Right now, when we are trying to hold Russia accountable for its illegal aggression in Eastern Europe, its war crimes in Aleppo, and its interference in our nation's election, how on earth can we trust someone with such a cozy relationship with the Putin government?
Mr. Tillerson's record also leads one to wonder how he will address the imperative to implement the Paris Climate Agreement - especially since President Trump is now exploring how to withdraw from it.
At the height of the debate on climate change legislation in Congress, Mr. Tillerson spent tens of millions of dollars to kill a bill that would have reduced our carbon emissions.
It has also been reported that his scientists at Exxon have known about the relationship between carbon emissions and climate change since the 1980s, and that Exxon even made business decisions about what resources to develop based on that knowledge.
Yet under Mr. Tillerson's leadership, they chose to withhold these findings and fund groups determined to sow confusion and doubt.
How can we be confident that Mr. Tillerson will help America address the impacts of climate change and put America's security and values first as the top diplomat?
Those conflicts of interest are troubling enough.
But the most troubling reason why I cannot support Mr. Tillerson's nomination is this:
In just the first week and a half of the Trump White House, we have seen numerous cases of Trump nominees saying one thing during their confirmation hearings before this body and then the Administration turning around and doing another thing.
After Secretary Mattis told us he opposed the Muslim travel ban and Director Pompeo stated his opposition in hearings to torture - we saw this administration move forward with both.
I have seen nothing that shows me that Rex Tillerson will stand up to President Trump's dangerous vision for American foreign policy.
What will he do to stand up for NATO?
What indication do we have that he will call on the President to act in the interests of the American people and not the interests of President Trump's business holdings in numerous nations around the world?
The Secretary of State sits on the National Security Council.
Will Mr. Tillerson stand up to Steve Bannon, President Trump's political strategist who has been outrageously placed on the National Security Council - while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the Director of National Intelligence were demoted?
President Trump has shown that he trusts the former leader of the far-right website Breitbart News more than our leading generals and his appointed leader of the intelligence community.
You can already see the influence of Mr. Bannon who has made a career out of selling hateful and divisive propaganda aimed at women, Hispanics, African Americans, Jews, and other minorities in the actions President Trump has taken in his first days in office.
During his first week in office, President Trump floated the idea of bringing back the CIA's use of 'black site' prisons and torture techniques, imposed a gag order on federal agencies, and renewed talk of a wall on our southern border.
And all of this culminated with an executive order blocking refugees from around the world from entering the United States.
This is not greatness, in fact, this is un-American.
I will not stand aside as the values that created the greatest nation on earth are trampled.
This dangerous executive action has already had a clear human impact.
In New Mexico, the Albuquerque Journal reports that our universities have issued an advisory to foreign students and faculty:
"Don't leave the country if you want to come back."
My office has already heard from New Mexicans who fear for their safety and the safety of their families abroad as a direct result of this order.
A man who moved to the United States as a refugee from Iraq and settled in Albuquerque told me that his wife and two kids went to Baghdad to attend his mother-in-law's funeral.
They are currently in Iraq and scheduled to return in February.
They are all green card holders and part of the Albuquerque community.
But President Trump's executive order has left him and his family in limbo.
"I am afraid about our destiny as a family, I am afraid I will lose them."
The heartbreaking human impact we have already seen are only part of why the Muslim travel ban was such an appalling action for the President to take.
George Washington once said:
"I had always hoped that this land might become a safe & agreeable Asylum to the virtuous & persecuted part of mankind, to whatever nation they might belong."
President trump, you are clearly no George Washington.
This executive order flies in the face of that sentiment that I believe we all share as Americans.
The Muslim travel ban will also greatly jeopardize our ongoing effort to defeat the Islamic State and directly threaten our national security.
I joined my colleagues in sending a letter to President Trump about his executive order.
I am particularly outraged about the absurd and careless nature of this executive order, which will have a profound effect on many Iraqi men and women who risked their lives, and the lives of their families, on behalf of our soldiers.
Last fall, I traveled to Iraq, Kuwait, and the Horn of Africa and met with top military officials to discuss operations against ISIL, Al Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations.
In order to find a lasting solution in that volatile region, we must take a smart approach that provides training, resources, and support to our regional allies like the Iraqi security forces, rather than putting tens of thousands of U.S. troops on the front lines.
Alienating our regional allies and Muslims as a whole puts all of that at risk.
Former cabinet Secretaries, senior government officials, diplomats, military service members and intelligence community professionals who have served in the Bush and Obama administrations expressed their deep concern this week with President Trump's Executive Order directed at the immigration system, refugees and visitors to this country.
In a letter they warned:
"This Order not only jeopardizes tens of thousands of lives, it has caused a crisis right here in America and will do long-term damage to our national security.
"In the middle of the night, just as we were beginning our nation's commemoration of the Holocaust, dozens of refugees onboard flights to the United States and thousands of visitors were swept up in an Order of unprecedented scope, apparently with little to no oversight or input from national security professionals."
Also this week, the Iraqi Parliament, in direct response to President Trump's Muslim travel ban voted to implement an identical visa ban on Americans.
How can we possibly think that this is in our national security interests?
Rex Tillerson has not answered questions about President Trump's Muslim travel ban.
Mr. Tillerson needs to tell us where he stands on this un-American policy.
If we are going to move forward on his nomination, Mr. Tillerson needs to reassure the American people that he understands the repercussions of this appalling action by the President.
He needs to show us that he will stand up for American values and against the President's dangerous impulses to isolate our nation, alienate our allies, and abdicate our role as leader of the free world.
Mr. Tillerson has not shown any of that to me, to the Senate, or to the American public.
Thousands of New Mexicans have flooded my office with letters, emails, and phone calls urging me to oppose Mr. Tillerson's nomination.
I share New Mexicans' well-founded concerns about Mr. Tillerson's qualifications to lead the State Department and stand up for our nation's interests.
I will not support his nomination, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to think carefully about the vote we are about to take.
Our nation's future role in the world is at stake.