Iowa Governor Terry Branstad was confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to China late Monday afternoon by the U.S. Senate on an 82 to 13 bipartisan vote.
Dave Price of WHO-TV reports that Branstad will resign as Governor on Wednesday.
After the vote, Branstad released the following statement:
I want to thank President Trump and Vice President Pence for nominating me to be the United States Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. I also want to thank Chairman Corker, Ranking Member Cardin, and the United States Senate for the confidence they have placed in me. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that a boy from a small farm in Leland, Iowa, would one day have the opportunity to represent my country and my state on the world stage, working closely with one of the world’s most influential countries and one of America’s largest trading partners. None of this would have been possible without the dedicated love and support of my wife Chris and my family.
While I’m temporarily leaving the state I love and have governed for over 22 years, I know I’m leaving Iowa in great hands with Kim Reynolds as governor. I look forward to working with both my friend President Donald Trump and my old friend President Xi Jinping for the mutual benefit of both of our countries and the rest of the world.
Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, who will be sworn in as Iowa’s 43rd and first female Governor, issued the following statement:
I want to congratulate Gov. Branstad on receiving overwhelming support to become the next U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. For over 22 years, Iowans have had a man with a servant heart working tirelessly on their behalf and for a state he loves dearly. His heart to serve has led him to accept a new calling, to serve our state and our country as Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China. He is uniquely qualified and is the right person for the right time, and we are proud to have him take our Iowa values to the world stage. Kevin and I wish Gov. Branstad and the First Lady our very best in their new mission.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) spoke on Branstad’s behalf from the Senate floor.
Below is the transcript of her remarks as prepared for delivery:
I rise today to encourage my colleagues to support Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s nomination to be U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China.
The position of U.S. Ambassador to China is one of the most important ambassadorial positions in the world, and I am confident that my friend and Governor – Terry Branstad – is the right person for the job.
Having worked alongside the Governor for many years, I know he will exemplify the same leadership, thoughtfulness, and dedication in his role as Ambassador to China on behalf of the United States as he did for the people of Iowa.
Importantly, Governor Branstad also knows China and its leaders well. He first met President Xi Jinping while he was visiting Iowa on an agricultural research trip in 1985. They have kept in touch over the years, and Governor Branstad has since visited China a number of times on behalf of the State of Iowa.
Iowa’s extensive trade relationship with China has given Governor Branstad a front-seat view of the complexities of our country’s broader trade and economic relationship with China and will provide him with the foundation to effectively advocate for U.S. interests.
As evidenced by his successful confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – which approved his nomination by voice vote – Governor Branstad will not only work tirelessly to foster our trade and economic interests with China, but he is also prepared to tackle the many other complex bilateral issues we have with China – from North Korea to the South China Sea to human rights.
It has been an honor to serve the people of Iowa alongside Governor Branstad – the longest serving governor in United States history – and I am thrilled to continue to work with him in his new role serving the American people.
I thank Governor Branstad for his service to Iowa, and I wish him and his family the best as they prepare to depart for Beijing.
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) also spoke on Branstad’s behalf:
The transcript of his remarks, as prepared for delivery, is below:
I’m pleased that the Senate is finally considering the nomination of Governor Branstad to be Ambassador to China.
Before I speak about the nominee, I’d first like to express my disappointment and frustration with the seemingly endless obstruction on the part of the minority.
This nominee received unanimous support in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee more than a week ago. Yet, the Majority Leader was required to file cloture on the nominee.
We could have approved this nomination with just a few minutes of debate time, yet, the minority required that we use 30 hours – not because they wanted to debate the merits of the nominee, but simply to delay the business of this body.
It’s unfortunate that their delay has kept an eminently qualified individual from getting into the job to promote American interests in China sooner.
I’m honored to have the opportunity today to speak to my colleagues about my good friend, Governor Terry Branstad.
Governor Branstad is the longest serving governor in U.S. history. He’s a lifelong Iowan who has devoted his life to public service.
After more than 22 years as my home state’s chief executive, I’m proud to support Governor Branstad’s nomination to serve our country as the next U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China.
The fact is, he’s been an ambassador for Iowa to the nation and to world for his entire career. He’s been a champion for Iowa and on behalf of Iowans around the globe.
As governor, he’s been vigorous in promoting our state’s economy and opening markets for our farm commodities, financial services and manufacturing to the world marketplace.
His nomination should come as no surprise to the people of Iowa. We have long known and benefited from the relationship Governor Branstad has with the people of China.
A sister-state relationship in 1983 has grown into a successful trade partnership that has benefited Iowa farmers and businesses.
Perhaps most notably, Governor Branstad enjoys a 30-year friendship with President Xi. Their first meeting took place in 1985 when Xi was then a local provincial official who led an agriculture delegation to Iowa.
President Xi visited Iowa again in 2012, when Governor Branstad was back at the helm in his fifth term. Their relationship reflects genuine goodwill and mutual respect.
Governor Branstad has never stopped working to expand Iowa’s trade, investment and economic partnerships on the world stage, including with China.
He will bring Midwestern humility and level-headed leadership to the job. He is a work horse who is unafraid to get in the trenches to get the job done.
I have no doubt he will stand strong for our American values, such as freedom of the press and religious liberty, and work to strengthen peace, stability and prosperity between our two nations.
Once confirmed, I’m confident that Governor Branstad will bring to bear his tireless commitment to solve problems and always move the ball forward.
Although his heart will always be in Iowa, I know that Governor Branstad will throw himself into this job whole-heartedly.
Governor Branstad is uniquely qualified to help strengthen the trade, economic, cultural and geo-political relationship between our two countries.
I’m pleased that he’s now been called to serve as Ambassador to China. I have every confidence that he will represent the United States well and excel just as he has throughout his career.
Without reservation, I support this nomination. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting his nomination.
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