Sen. Jim DeMint on his "nay" vote for Hillary Clinton

Mr. President, Senator Clinton is uniquely and highly qualified for the job of Secretary of State. She has been very open and forthright in her answers to questions at the Committee hearings and to my questions asked in private conversations and in the dozens of questions I submitted to her for written responses.

I believe she honestly wants what is best for our nation, and I will do my best to support her in that endeavor.

As a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, I voted to send her nomination to the full Senate, because I believe she has earned the right to an up-or-down vote.

Senator Clinton will be confirmed today. There is not much doubt about that.

She will be sworn in and when she does she will have my prayers for her success.

At the Committee level, I said she not only had the potential to be a good Secretary of State, but a great Secretary of State.

But, her success will be determined by more than just her considerable intellect and experience.

It will also be determined by the policies she pursues.

This is one area that concerns me. Based on her testimony, her answers to questions, and her public statements, I believe she will take our foreign policy in a direction that erodes our national independence and surrenders sovereignty to international powers.

I am deeply concerned that she will take aim at decades-old policies intended to protect the sanctity of human life. These policies ensure that our foreign assistance money do not fund abortion, and are not used to lobby foreign nations to repeal laws that protect unborn children.

The United States is certainly an economic, political, and military superpower.  But, we have also strived to be more -- to be a moral superpower.  Our unwavering adherence to principles of freedom and human dignity set us apart, and these pro-life regulations contribute to that moral leadership.

Some will argue that we should expect these policies from Senator Clinton, given that President Obama has very strong views supporting unrestricted abortion.  I understand that.  And to some degree, I believe he should be allowed to surround himself with individuals who share his views, even if they are misguided.  Within reason, I may even support a nominee who has certain views I disagree with.  

I do not plan to slow up this nomination, but I do find it difficult to support a nominee who I know will pursue policies so contrary to American sovereignty and the dignity of the human person.  I will continue to try to persuade Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama to modify their positions. That obviously won't happen before the vote today.

But, one matter I had hoped would be resolved before the vote today is the Clinton Foundation and its initiatives.  I urged Senator Clinton at the hearing, as others did, to do whatever she could to eliminate any doubt about the foundation's fundraising and the potential conflict of interest with foreign nations.  I believe this problem can be very easily fixed, if the foundation agrees to refuse all foreign donations and fully disclose all contribution online immediately as long as Sen. Clinton is Secretary of State.  To date, Senator Clinton has not agreed to do this.

Let's be clear.  Senator Clinton does not have to provide this disclosure to be confirmed -- she already has the votes.  As far as I know, the law does not require any of this disclosure.  In fairness, the foundation plans to provide disclosure far beyond what it is required to do legally. But we are in new waters here, the first time the spouse of a former president is stepping into such an important role. In a world where bribes, kickbacks, and pay to play are all too often the normal way of doing business, the United States must stand apart.  As President Obama said yesterday, "those of us who manage the public's dollar will be held to account... and [we must] do our business in the light of day because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."
That's why, I believe, additional steps should be taken to eliminate this potential conflict. This will help her be a Secretary of State that is above reproach.  It is essential that our Secretary be seen as treating nations fairly.  I have every belief that Sen. Clinton can be a fair Secretary of State.  But, it is not enough that we treat other nations fairly.  They must know they are being treated fairly.

If there is suspicion that certain nations or international players are gaining advantage by virtue of contributions to the Clinton Foundation or its initiatives that will compromise our new Secretary's effectiveness.  This is why I believe only full and immediate public disclosure, and refusal of all foreign donations, is the only solution.

The memorandum of understanding signed by the foundation leaves a lot of discretion to Senator Clinton.  During her confirmation hearing, Sen Lugar presented a request for more acceptable disclosures, and Sen Kerry, as chairman, supported these recommendations. Unfortunately, Sen. Clinton has not agreed to follow even these modest recommendations.    

For these reasons, I will be voting against the nomination, but I will do so with nothing but sincere hope and goodwill toward our new Secretary of State, and pray for her success as she takes the helm of the State Department.

I thank the Chair and yield the floor.