Sen. Bob Menendez called upon Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to cancel reckless holiday parties to be hosted by the State Department, calling such events too risky.
“It is one thing for individuals to engage in behavior that flies in the face of CDC and public health guidelines,” Menendez wrote in seeking a cancellations of the parties. “But it is another to put employees and workers at risk, some of whom include contractors, such as catering and wait staff, who do not receive the full benefits of federal employment and may not have health insurance.”
Recognizing a Need to Lead by Example
Menendez noted it was important to lead by example, and that holding the events put State Department workers at risk in addition those traveling to attend the events.
The senior Senator from New Jersey urged the Department to consider the health of its workers, and to help the nation reduce further spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“I am concerned that these parties pose a significant health risk, not only to attendees, but to the employees and workers who must staff these events, as well as to State Department employees who may feel pressured to attend,” he said.
Contrasting Against CDC, Department Guidelines
Menendez took offense with the parties as they clearly violated recent CDC guidance on the topic, but contrasted against State Department guidelines.
The senator emphasized the events would ignore social distancing and other COVID-19 safety recommendations from the CDC Director, in addition to “the Department’s own guidance against holding in-person events that are not ‘mission critical’.”
Menendez argued the events were clearly not “mission critical,” and hoped the State Department would cancel activities during a difficult and unusual holiday season.