Democrat unveils bill capping number of ambassadors who are political appointees

Democrat unveils bill capping number of ambassadors who are political appointees
© Greg Nash

Rep. Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraKrystal Ball: New Biden ad is everything that's wrong with Democrats Overnight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East Pelosi to Democrats: 'Are you ready?' MORE (D-Calif.) on Wednesday unveiled new legislation that would limit the number of ambassadors who are political appointees, at a time when tensions within the State Department are becoming central to the impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE.

Under Bera’s bill, at least 70 percent of ambassador appointments would be required to come from career foreign service and civil service ranks. He released the Strengthening Traditional American Diplomacy Act on Wednesday.

Bera, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, said in a statement that the Trump administration has a “record number” of political appointees in ambassador positions.

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“While it’s true that some political appointees have a wealth of professional experience that contributes to our nation, many individuals have little to no prior diplomatic experience,” he continued. “During a time of increasing complex global challenges and national security threats facing the United States, we must have our most qualified and experienced public servants representing the US around the world.”

Bera added that he was “deeply troubled” by reports of the administration “sidelining” policy experts and “retaliating against” career employees.

“Career diplomats dedicate their lives to serving the American people and government both home and abroad,” he said in the statement. “They serve on the frontlines of American diplomacy, helping mitigate and prevent some of our country’s most pressing foreign policy issues. We must send a strong signal to our diplomats that they are valued, and that starts with retaining and promoting our best and brightest public servants.”

The release reports that 45 percent of Trump’s ambassadors are political appointees, compared to 30 percent under former President Obama, 32 percent under former President George W. Bush and 28 percent under former President Clinton.

A State Department spokesperson told The Hill it does not comment on pending legislation.

Morale in the State Department is reportedly at an all-time low after budget cuts, departures from senior staff and accusations against employees of participating in an alleged deep state.  

The Trump administration has received criticism over allegations that its Ukraine policy was dictated by noncareer officials such as Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, the president’s personal attorney Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Horowitz offers troubling picture of FBI's Trump campaign probe Horowitz: 'Very concerned' about FBI leaks to Giuliani MORE and former special envoy to Ukraine Kurt VolkerKurt VolkerPush to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Senate confirms Brouillette to replace Perry as Energy secretary How Democrats' missing witnesses could fill in the Ukraine story MORE

Their involvement in Ukraine policy is being discussed as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump.