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Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) will join his fellow members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a routine confirmation hearing on January 24, but this time he won’t be holding the gavel.  Instead, as President Obama’s nominee to be the next secretary of state, Sen. Kerry will take questions from the committee on how he would carry out the Obama administration's foreign policy priorities.

Sen. Kerry has been out front on the need to place development and diplomacy alongside defense at the heart of America’s foreign policy and, to that end, the need for stronger US development policies and programs.  These principles align with the development priorities laid out (if not fully realized) in the Obama administration's first term, and I hope will be reiterated in the upcoming hearing.  I also hope that Sen. Kerry will be asked to touch on some of the important development issues he led on during his time in the Senate – namely Pakistan, climate change and energy security.

So here are a few questions I’ll be listening for members of the committee to ask Sen. Kerry:

  1. You were a lead co-sponsor of the 2009 Enhanced Partnership for Pakistan Act (commonly known as the Kerry Lugar Berman bill), which formalized the United States’ commitment to long-term development assistance in Pakistan. How would you grade its impact so far?  As secretary of state, how will you support US development efforts in Pakistan, and will you consider any changes in the way the State Department, USAID and others implement the development approach in Pakistan? (See a cheat sheet for this question here.)
  2. As part of its effort to elevate and revitalize US development efforts, the Obama administration pledged to make the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) the “premiere development agency in the world”.   As secretary of state, how will you work with USAID to help achieve this vision?  What steps will you take to elevate development alongside diplomacy and defense?
  3. You have said that climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the United States.  What role do you see the State Department playing to help developing countries respond to the impacts of climate change?  What role do you see for the United States in promoting collective action on climate change? Will the Global Climate Change Initiative focus on either or both of these?
  4. The Office of Global Health Diplomacy was recently established in the State Department, marking a shift from the Global Health Initiative's focus on interagency coordination to diplomatic leadership on global health. What will be the role of the new Office of Global Health Diplomacy during your tenure?  How will it relate to the programs and expertise at USAID and other US government agencies?