US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to downgrade or completely remove more than 30 special envoy positions at the State Department, media reported.
"The goal of restructuring these offices is to ensure that each policy priority efficiently aligns with the resources housed in the regional and functional bureaus", Tillerson said in a letter to the US Senate.
Special envoys for Syria, Sudan and South Sudan, and the Arctic will be eliminated. The U.S. Special Representative to Muslim Communities and the U.S. Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, which includes the world's Islamic states, will also be eliminated.
But the idea has attracted new scrutiny amid the Trump administration's plans to drastically cut the State Department's budget and concerns that Trump was eschewing the promotion of American values overseas. However, the removal of the special envoy for climate change will be viewed by many as the latest sign the current White House is withdrawing from its global leadership in this area, undoing years of work by the Obama administration to build worldwide trust on climate. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the position "will be retained and continue to be organized under the" State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the announcement in a letter sent Monday to Sen.
Berry's bio on the State Department website now notes in the past tense that he "served as the State Department's Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons beginning in April 2015". There have been questions about whether Berry would remain in his job because a portion of his online state department bio is in the past tense. Twenty-one will be "integrated" into other offices, five merged with other positions, and one transferred to the U.S. Agency for International Development, the government's foreign aid arm. In many cases, Tillerson argues that existing State Department bureaus will be able to handle the same duties in a more efficient way.
Some of the special envoy positions are mandated by law, making Tillerson's reorganization process tricky.
According to CNN, senator Ed Markey (D-Mass), who sits on the foreign relations committee with Corker, said on Tuesday: "None of these are incidental..."
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