WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced President Joe Biden’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), former Delaware Governor Jack Markell, his friend of 32 years. Senator Coons also introduced his friend and former colleague Senator Jeff Flake, who is nominated to serve as U.S. ambassador to Turkey.

Senator Coons highlighted Governor Markell’s “remarkable record of achievement – of creating opportunity, of not just talking the talk, but of taking effective action.” He expressed his gratitude for Markell’s two decades of public service during which “he led innovative financial literacy and banking access initiatives, managed a severe fiscal crisis that affected our whole country, but did so responsibly in Delaware, helped grow our local economy, and showed real vision in creating new opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities” and “helped create Pathways to Prosperity in the state of Delaware.”

“A dedicated and capable public servant with the experience, intelligence, and character to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the OECD, I look forward to supporting him, not just in his nomination, but in his service, and urge my colleagues to do the same,” Senator Coons said of Governor Markell.

In his introduction of Senator Flake, Coons said, “Senator Flake has long championed American leadership around the world by promoting the rule of law, protecting human rights, and through strong international agreements. And his deep sense of right and wrong hasn’t wavered. I am confident that his commitment and character, thoughtfulness and skills will serve him well in a very demanding post as ambassador to Turkey, where his abilities will be greatly needed to navigate difficult security issues, and one where his service will reinforce the importance of bipartisanship in foreign policy.”

Full audio and video of the Senator’s introduction available here. A transcript is provided below.

Sen. Coons: Thank you very much, Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Risch. Before proceeding with more detailed introductions, I ask unanimous consent to add a statement from my predecessor, former Senator Ted Kaufman, a detailed statement of introduction in support of Mark Gitenstein to serve as U.S. ambassador to the EU. And I join Senator Kaufman in urging support for Mark Gitenstein, who I know will be a very capable and experienced ambassador – his second term of service as an ambassador to now an entire region so critical to all of us.

I’ve known Jack and his wonderful wife Carla for 32 years. In Delaware, we pride ourselves on being able to work together. We’re a state of neighbors, a state that cares about solving problems and doing the right thing, and no one epitomizes that more than our former governor and state treasurer, Jack Markell. As state treasurer for ten years, governor for eight years, Jack’s been guided by strong values and a sharp intellect. His passion for helping others is rooted in his faith, and strengthened when, at age 17, he had a chance to travel to India and to see profound inequality and deep poverty.

And in the decades since, he has built a remarkable record of achievement – of creating opportunity, of not just talking the talk, but of taking effective action. Across two decades in leadership, he led innovative financial literacy and banking access initiatives, managed a severe fiscal crisis that affected our whole country, but did so responsibly in Delaware, helped grow our local economy, and showed real vision in creating new opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. He helped create Pathways to Prosperity in the state of Delaware, a national model for helping workplace experience and college credit opportunities for young people, and launched one of the best language immersion programs in kindergarten.

He has a deep understanding of the private sector and economic development. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago, and helped launch and create the telecom company, Nextel, a company now valued at $35 billion. So he understands both how to solve complex problems, and how the United States can work with our OECD partners to put in place policies to create conditions for economic growth. He led both the Democratic Governors Association and the National Governors Association, and today he is leading Operation Allies Welcome – the resettlement of thousands of the Afghan partners who served alongside us in our 20 years of conflict.

A dedicated and capable public servant with the experience, intelligence, and character to serve as the U.S. ambassador to the OECD, I look forward to supporting him, not just in his nomination, but in his service, and urge my colleagues to do the same.

Now, Mr. Chairman, if I might, I’m also honored to introduce my friend and our former colleague, Senator Jeff Flake. 

Senator Flake, to be clear, is a conservative Republican from Arizona, and I am a Democrat from Delaware. In the six years we served alongside each other, we voted on the opposite way of virtually every vote we ever took in the Senate. But during those six years, I came to know Jeff as an honorable man, as a principled public servant, as a patriotic American, and a loyal friend. We traveled together to more than a dozen countries: West Africa, East Africa, northern Europe. We had the bonding moment of both being chased by elephants in Mozambique.

We worked together on legislation to protect wildlife from trafficking, to protect the rule of law on the Judiciary Committee, to promote free and fair elections and economic reforms in Zimbabwe, where he did his mission service.

Senator Flake has long championed American leadership around the world by promoting the rule of law, protecting human rights, and through strong international agreements. And his deep sense of right and wrong hasn’t wavered. I am confident that his commitment and character, thoughtfulness and skills will serve him well in a very demanding post as ambassador to Turkey, where his abilities will be greatly needed to navigate difficult security issues, and one where his service will reinforce the importance of bipartisanship in foreign policy. I know he will be even more successful with his amazing wife, Cheryl, by his side, and I look forward to supporting Senator Flake’s nomination and encourage my colleagues to do so as well.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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