Yesterday, President Bush made a recess appointment of Ellen Sauerbrey to be Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, circumventing Congressional opposition to her appointment. Sauerbrey was previously the US Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Commission on the Status of Women, is a staunch opponent of reproductive rights, and has no experience handling refugee and crisis situations.
Women’s organizations (including the Feminist Majority) worked to block Sauerbrey, a known opponent of women’s rights and a Republican operative who had run for Maryland Governor and who led the Maryland Bush campaign in 2000. Sauerbrey opposed the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and headed the Bush administration’s effort to undermine the Beijing Platform for Action, an agreement between 189 countries to safeguard women’s rights.
Sauerbrey faced opposition and delay in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), and Barack Obama (D-IL) expressed concerns and asked questions about her qualifications for the post. The committee had delayed a final vote.
Ironically, on the same day of the recess appointment, The New York Times ran an editorial that opposed Sauerbrey’s appointment, saying, “Ms. Sauerbrey has zero experience in emergency management and refugee resettlement. In the wake of the bungled response to Hurricane Katrina by a similarly uncredentialed appointee, Congress has become more sensitive to charges of this kind of cronyism.”