Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has scheduled the Senate vote on the nomination of Michael Pack to become CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) for Thursday, June 4. Speaking on the Senate floor at the end of Wednesday’s session, Senator McConnell said that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Ranking Democratic Member Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who earlier had opposed sending Pack’s nomination to the full Senate, will control Thursday 20 minutes of any floor debate after which the Senate will take the final vote.
SENATOR McCONNELL, JUNE 03, 2020: I ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding the provisions of Rule 22, the cloture motion with respect to the [Michael] Pack nomination [to be CEO of U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM] ripen at 11:40 A.M. tomorrow [Thursday, June 4, 2020], with 20 minutes of debate under the control of Senator [Bob] Menendez [D-NJ] prior to the vote. I further ask that if cloture is invoked on Pack nomination, the post cloture time expire at 1:30 P.M. tomorrow. Finally, if confirmed, the motion to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table and the President immediately notified of the Senate’s action.
While Senator Menendez and other Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee objected to Michael Pack’s nomination to be sent to the full Senate, committee chairman, Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), and Republican members by majority vote expressed approval for it to go forward. The vote on Michael Pack in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was along party lines.
Multiple management and programming scandals have been reported in recent years at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, previously known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). They were especially frequent and serious at the Voice of America (VOA) under executives appointed during the Obama administration. Some of them, including VOA Director Amanda Bennett, are still in charge. Federal surveys show record low levels of morale among agency employees. The Trump administration in its third year has so far no key executives at VOA or within the agency’s bureaucracy in Washington.
The current VOA management team under Bennett’s leadership has alienated Iranian-American and Chinese-American communities by allowing VOA to repeat propaganda from authoritarian regimes in Iran and China. Bennett strongly denies these charges. President Trump spoke critically about VOA’s current management and the White House issued highly critical statements.
A key aide to former CEO who was appointed during the previous administration and resigned last year, was sent to prison for stealing money from the agency. A vote in the Senate on Pack’s nomination is now expected to be taken on Thursday, June 4.