House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer blasted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday for failing to sign off on an event the U.S. was slated to host on supporting global democracy, saying the action sends a "dangerous signal" to the nation's adversaries.
"By stalling and scaling back this event -- in addition to removing ‘just' and ‘democratic' from the State Department's mission -- Secretary Tillerson is sending a dangerous signal to the world about the priorities of the United States," the top Democrat from Maryland said in a statement. "Congress must send a strong signal to this Administration that we stand united in the promotion of democracy here at home and around the world."
The event is called the Community of Democracies ministerial conference that the U.S. had been slated to host this year. The organization was established in 2000 by then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as an intergovernmental coalition to work with civil society groups to promote and protect democratic freedoms and human rights.
Washington Post opinion writer Josh Rogin reported that the State Department was expected to host the event in September, but no one at State Department can say definitely if it will actually take place.
"Administration officials and organizers told me the planning is stalled because Tillerson's office hasn't responded to his own building's months-old proposals about the event," Rogin wrote on Thursday. "As planning time runs short, many see the State Department under Tillerson as shirking the U.S. commitment as current president of the coalition."
Every two years, the coalition hosts a foreign ministerial meeting and this year it is the U.S.'s turn to host.
"I am deeply concerned by Secretary Tillerson's unwillingness to sign off on the Community of Democracies event that the United States is expected to hold this year," Hoyer added in his Saturday statement.
"At a time when foreign adversaries are working to undermine democracies, we ought to be joining with our allies to examine how we can safeguard democratic institutions and confront those who threaten them," he said.