U.S. President Donald Trump has nominated a former member of the U.S. Senate from Texas to become the next ambassador to NATO.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, 73, served in the Senate for 20 years beginning in 1993, when she won a special election to fill a vacant seat. Since stepping down in 2013, she has practiced law for a firm in Houston that also has former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Trump supporter as a partner.
If confirmed as the U.S. envoy to NATO, Hutchison will have to straddle the longtime U.S. commitment to the military alliance and the thorny relationship that Trump has had with the 28-nation group.
As a candidate, Trump called NATO “obsolete.” Since becoming president, he has criticized NATO members for depending on the U.S. military for defense and for not paying what he said was their fair share of the alliance’s costs.
At a meeting in Brussels with NATO members in May, Trump added to strains within the alliance by complaining that what he saw as NATO members’ reluctance to contribute fully to the organization had “shortchanged” the people of the United States. He also neglected to reaffirm America’s commitment to Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which guarantees that all member nations will come to the aid of any member that has been attacked.
The Dallas Morning News reported Hutchison said she was honored to be chosen to represent America on the world stage. “I am a strong supporter of this historic defense and security alliance that was formed to protect freedom for all its members, united and indivisible,” she said in a statement.
Hutchison was the first woman to represent Texas in the Senate. She served on a variety of committees, including those reponsible for armed services, appropriations, commerce, science and transportation, intelligence, small businesses, and Senate rules and administration.
She became the fourth Texan tapped for a key role in the Trump administration, joining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Ray Washburn, nominated to head the Overseas Private Investment Corp.