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Menendez, Risch Celebrate Committee Approval of Department of State Authorization Act

New bipartisan push comes as a stand-alone State Department authorization bill has not been signed into law since 2002

WASHINGTON – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Ranking Member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) today announced Committee passage of the Department of State Authorization Act of 2022, legislation to provide robust authorities for the management and operation of the State Department. Today’s Committee approval builds on the senators’ joint effort to conduct a regular review of State Department programs and practices, which began with last year’s passage of the first authorization bill in nearly two decades.

The Department of State Authorization Act of 2022 makes significant investments key to advancing U.S. national security and foreign affairs, including: modernizing our diplomatic corps and strengthening diverse recruitment and retention efforts; updating embassy security process and procedures at U.S. missions abroad; reforming hostage diplomacy to increase support for U.S. nationals detained abroad and their families; codifying into law the recently created Cyberspace and Digital Policy Bureau while expanding the Department’s cyber capabilities; and approving millions for internet freedom programs to bypass censorship and government blackouts around the world.

“I am incredibly proud to lead the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in making clear we are determined to reassert Congress’s role in shaping our nation’s foreign policy, including through making the tough choices of where we want to invest our diplomatic resources every year,” Chairman Menendez said. “After two decades of forgoing our responsibilities to pass a State Department Authorization bill, today we take a momentous step forward in recognition of the urgent need to modernize the State Department – one not only outfitted to better navigate today’s challenges but strengthened by a talented workforce reflective of the richness of our nation’s diversity. I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that this bill is passed on the Senate Floor so we can continue rebuilding our nation’s diplomatic and national security capabilities.”

“Authorizing the State Department is one of the primary responsibilities of this committee. The authorization bill the committee passed today addresses critical challenges inhibiting effective management and diplomacy, and will save the American taxpayer billions of dollars over the next couple of decades,” said Ranking Member Risch. “I’m particularly excited to have my Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act and Diplomatic Support and Security Act included in the text. These bills together have the potential to make generational change at the State Department, pressing the Department to move away from risk avoidance, and towards allowing our diplomats to get out from embassy walls and back to the business of diplomacy and advancing America’s interests abroad.”

The State Department Authorization of 2022
  • Promotes a Diverse Workforce: Authorizes paid internships, improves demographic data collection on hiring, promotion, leadership, and retention efforts, and examines creating Centers of Excellence aimed at increasing the number of underrepresented students that enter foreign affairs.
  • Improves Treatment of Personnel: Makes improvements aimed at preventing and responding to harassment and discrimination of personnel, including codifying that Foreign Service Officers may be separated for criminal misconduct, including sexual assault. Also requires sufficient staffing of the Victims’ Resource Advocacy Program.
  • Strengthens Training and Professional Development: Calls for increased and more accessible training and professional development opportunities for the State Department workforce. Establishes a non-partisan board to provide independent advice and recommendations on curriculum and professional development.
  • Reforms Embassy Security and Security Investigations: Requires recommendations to streamline the security clearance approval process. Reforms the current Accountability Review Board (ARB) process and procedures for investigating serious security incidents on a U.S. mission abroad, and provides flexibility for State on embassy facilities and construction to ensure that diplomats can better access and engage with local populations.
  • Advances Cyber Capabilities: Includes a robust cyber title that would improve recruiting and retention for cybersecurity personnel, expand State’s regional technology officer program, and codify the new Cyberspace and Digital Policy Bureau.
  • Authorizes Global Internet Freedom Activities: Authorizes $75 million for Internet Freedom programs and includes expedited funds to address crises situation such as protests in Cuba or Russia.
  • Supports Wrongful Detainees/Hostages: Enhances notice to Congress of wrongful detention determinations, establishes a senior coordinator at State to coordinate with victims’ families so they receive consistent and accurate information, and expands rewards for information that leads to arrest or other information involving those who unlawfully detain Americans abroad.
  • Supports Employees at UN and International Organizations: Authorizes efforts to promote employment and advancement of U.S. citizens in international organizations and bodies, and increases the number of Foreign Service employees eligible for housing serving at the U.S. mission to the United Nations in New York.
  • Combats Malign Foreign Political Influence: Includes a new statutory prohibition on former senior State Department officials representing or advising adversary governments like China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, and bans former secretaries and deputy secretaries from advising or representing any foreign government.






Juan Pachon