Durbin Presses Pompeo On Venezuela, Middle East Policies

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today derided Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he stated that the Trump Administration had not decided whether or not they would offer Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to approximately 72,000 Venezuelan nationals currently present in the United States who face real danger and chaos if forced to return to Venezuela.  Last month, Durbin led 24 Senators in a letter to President Trump requesting that his Administration promptly designate Venezuela for TPS.

“I joined with Marco Rubio about two weeks ago in sending a letter to you and the President saying this is the time to protect Venezuelans who are here in the United States.  They should not be forced to return to the dangerous conditions in Venezuela – they should be given Temporary Protected Status.  I have yet to hear.  Can you announce today the good news that these Venezuelans can stay here in the United States?” Durbin asked. 

“I cannot,” Secretary Pompeo answered.  “We are still evaluating how to handle that situation.  There’s no decision been made by the Administration yet.” 

Durbin continued, “I don’t get this.  It is so dangerous the United States has intervened on a foreign policy basis.  We have made it clear we have no use for Maduro and we believe the Venezuelan people suffer under his leadership.  I just sense, Mr. Secretary, that this President’s aversion to refugees and immigrants is stopping him from doing the obvious – come to the rescue of Venezuelans in the United States on a temporary basis.  Don’t force them back to a dangerous, deadly situation.” 

During today’s Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operation hearing on the Trump Administration’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget request, Durbin also asked Secretary Pompeo whether or not he believes there should be a two-state solution in the Middle East.  Secretary Pompeo stated that the Trump Administration would be rolling out its plan for Middle East peace “before too long.”  

“Mr. Secretary, I strongly support our relationship with Israel.  I believe the Palestinian’s need a homeland as well.  Two sovereign states – not a threat to one another.  And this departure that we have made under this Administration, I’m afraid, puts the future of Israel as a Jewish democracy in doubt,” Durbin said.  “I don’t think the Administration is thinking clearly about how this ends well.  Perhaps the people of Israel in this election today will see a different way for the future.” 

Video of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here.


Audio of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here.


Footage of Durbin’s remarks in Committee is available here for TV Stations.

The Trump Administration’s proposed budget would slash funding for foreign aid and diplomacy by approximately 24 percent from the Fiscal Year 2019 funding level.