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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, yesterday convened a hearing on nominations for Director of the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs (PM). The committee heard testimony from John Richmond, the nominee for the TIP office, and R. Clarke Cooper, the nominee for the PM bureau.

“We cannot forget that modern slavery exists because people profit from exploiting others,” said Corker. “The victimization of the more than 27 million people suffering in forms of bonded labor and sexual servitude around the world will not end until the impunity of exploiters ends. We hope Mr. Richmond will speak to how he will lead the State Department’s efforts to address that challenge. And I think he’s got an extraordinary background to be able to do that.”

In questioning Richmond, Corker asked about the importance of leveraging resources from around the world to combat slavery through U.S. investment in the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery (GFEMS) that was established through legislation authored by Corker.

“Senator, I am familiar with the Program to End Modern Slavery at the State Department and am grateful for your leadership and the leadership of this committee in getting that through Congress to establish that program,” said Richmond. “The leverage piece is an incredibly significant aspect of that. And I have been encouraged by the Global Fund, the first recipient of the Program to End Modern Slavery, and that it has in its first year commitments to more than double the first $25 million tranche that has been extended is encouraging and powerful. The idea that there could be a PEPFAR-like fund to help combat trafficking is incredibly encouraging. I’m also impressed by the focus on metrics and measurement within the Program to End Modern Slavery…Far too often, I think this movement has been motivated by anecdote and emotion, which can be quite powerful, but to have research and scholarship and metrics apply as well is very encouraging as we work to end impunity.”

In 2015, Corker proposed a bold, bipartisan initiative to end modern slavery worldwide that became law in 2016 and now operates as the GFEMS. GFEMS is designed to leverage limited foreign aid dollars and galvanize tremendous support and investment from the public sector, philanthropic organizations and the private sector to fund projects and organizations around the world working to end modern slavery where it is most prevalent. With support from the administration, the U.S. made a $25 million contribution to the fund in 2017, which was soon after matched by the United Kingdom.

Corker’s full remarks follow. Click here for complete testimony and video footage from the hearing.

“Today we will consider the nominations of individuals to serve our country in two vital roles at the State Department.

“We welcome both of you, and thank you for your willingness to serve.

“First, we have Clark Cooper, who has had a distinguished career in the U.S. Army and currently holds the rank of major.

“Major Cooper has been nominated to be Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs, or ‘PM’.

“He currently serves as the Director of Intelligence Planning for the Joint Interagency Task Force-National Capital Region for the Joint Special Operations Command. 

“That’s a long title. I hope you don’t have to give that much.

“He has served in the Army on active duty since 2013 and in a variety of reserve assignments since 2001. He has also worked in the State Department in Near Eastern Affairs, in Legislative Affairs in Baghdad, and at the United Nations.

“In addition to other responsibilities, such as defense trade controls and security agreement negotiations, the Assistant Secretary for PM directly manages approximately $260 million in foreign assistance through grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements, while indirectly overseeing an additional $7 billion in foreign assistance.

“Major Cooper has demonstrated that he has the capacity to fulfill important responsibilities and manage others in a variety of high-pressure environments. He also understands the important role that Congress plays in authorizing and having the oversight of this portfolio.

“I believe he has the experience and ability to successfully direct the PM bureau.

“Again, thank you for being here.

“Our second nominee is Mr. John Richmond. Mr. Richmond is a seasoned prosecutor and practitioner in the fight against modern slavery.

“If confirmed, Mr. Richmond would bring with him 10 years of experience as a federal prosecutor. During his time at the Justice Department, he helped to found the Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit. He also spent four years in India working on human trafficking issues with International Justice Mission.

“Senator Menendez and I wrote the bill that established the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery. In order to win this fight, we have to leverage investments by other governments with the private sector to fund projects that will eliminate modern slavery. We appreciate the administration’s significant contribution to a fund that attracted other significant investments, including from the United Kingdom.

“We cannot forget that modern slavery exists because people profit from exploiting others. The victimization of the more than 27 million people suffering in forms of bonded labor and sexual servitude around the world will not end until the impunity of exploiters ends. We hope Mr. Richmond will speak to how he will lead the State Department’s efforts to address that challenge. And I think he’s got an extraordinary background to be able to do that.

“I want to thank you both, again, for being here today. I look forward to your testimony and our discussion of these important issues.”

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