The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has delayed its vote on the nomination of Ellen Sauerbrey to be Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration at the request of Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and after ten women’s rights and health organizations announced their opposition. The coalition of women’s groups, of which the Feminist Majority is a member, is calling for the Senate Committee’s rejection of the nomination.
At a hearing last week, Senators Boxer, Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), and Barack Obama (D-IL) expressed strong concerns over Sauerbrey’s lack of qualifications and her dubious record on women’s rights while serving as US Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Sauerbrey herself stated, during questioning by Senator Sarbanes, that she does not have experience resettling refugees, something she acknowledged was a “major responsibility” of the position for which she has been nominated.
Sauerbrey’s nomination has garnered strong criticism of the Bush Administration’s latest example of cronyism, including editorials against her appointment in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Baltimore Sun. Sauerbrey is opposed by two former Assistant Secretaries, Julia Taft and Phyllis Oakley. Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority, stated, “Ellen Sauerbrey has been tapped for this position because of her loyalty to the President and her insistence on making every international women’s reproductive health issue about abortion. We don’t need an ideologue in this position, we need a qualified person.”