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Milwaukee mayor makes case for ambassadorship before U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Michael Sears
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Mayor Tom Barrett

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett got his first opportunity Tuesday to convince the Senate Foreign Relations committee he’s the right one for the job of U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. President Joe Biden tapped Barrett in August for the position, but it has to be confirmed by the committee and by the full U.S. Senate.

In making his case Tuesday, Barrett told the committee that as ambassador, he would work hard to combat climate change in the country of 640,000 people.

“As mayor of Milwaukee, I have chaired the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and I have worked to create green solutions to clean up rivers, parks and brownfields. That is important because it is imperative that we work at all levels of government domestically and international to support President Biden’s efforts to combat global climate change. If confirmed, I look forward to working with Luxembourg on this important issue.”

After Barrett spoke, members of the committee asked him questions. Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland asked Barrett to address concerns about longstanding illegal financial practices in Luxembourg.

Van Hollen asked: "How responsive has Luxembourg been in your opinion to U.S. and international concerns about money laundering and tax evasion? Luxembourg is often named as one of those tax havens. Could you comment on that?"

Barrett responded: "It’s important to note that the Financial Action Task Force, which is the international watchdog that periodically goes into countries to make sure there’s no money laundering or illegal money, will be in Luxembourg this month. I intend, if I’m confirmed, to look very carefully at what the Financial Action Task Force recommendations are, and then work with the Luxembourg government to make sure those become a reality."

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on whether to confirm Barrett as ambassador at a later date.

Marti was a reporter with WUWM from 1999 to 2021.
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