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SFRC Chairman Menendez, Ranking Member Risch Secure Inclusion of State Department Authorization Act in Annual Defense Bill

WASHINGTONU.S. Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the below statements after their bipartisan Department of State Authorization Act of 2022 was approved by Congress as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY23. For the second year in a row, following last year’s passage, which broke a near 20-year streak of an authorization bill not being passed into law, Menendez shepherded through comprehensive legislation reaffirming the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s role in providing authorities, setting funding levels, and establishing objectives for State Department operations.

“Against a backdrop of increasing threats from malign foreign influence, democratic backsliding, and disregard for human rights, I am incredibly proud to again deliver a comprehensive State Department authorization bill to make certain we are not only providing for America’s troops, but investing in our brave diplomats so they can better promote and protect the American people, our interests, and our values around the world,” said Chairman Menendez.

“This year’s State Department authorization includes my Secure Embassy Construction and Counterterrorism Act and Diplomatic Support and Security Act—two measures that will make generational change at the State Department,” said Ranking Member Risch. “It’s time the Department 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. This legislation will help our people get back to the business of engaging in diplomacy and advancing America’s interests abroad.”

The Department of State Authorization Act of 2022 makes significant investments key to advancing U.S. national security and foreign affairs. In addition to modernizing our diplomatic corps and strengthening diverse recruitment and retention efforts, the legislation also updates embassy security processes and procedures at U.S. missions abroad, and increases support for families of Americans wrongfully abroad, codifies the new Cyberspace and Digital Policy Bureau, and authorizes support for internet freedom programs to bypass censorship and government blackouts around the world.

“This is a critical bipartisan victory to provide additional legal authorities, authorize funding levels, allow for additional congressional oversight, and reassert the SFRC’s role in shaping U.S. foreign policy. I thank my colleagues for their cooperation in making the tough choices of where we want to invest our diplomatic resources. This legislation will go a long way in helping restore, strengthen, diversify, and modernize our nation’s premiere foreign policy institution,” Chairman Menendez added.

The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) also expressed its support:

“AFSA is pleased to see Congress pass a comprehensive State Department Authorization Act for the second year in a row. This bill provides the opportunity to extend important authorities that impact all elements of life in the Foreign Service.”

Click HERE for a copy of the Department of State Authorization Act of 2022. Among its key provisions, the legislation:

  • Promotes a Diverse Workforce: Authorizes paid internships and provides authority to hire interns, improves demographic data collection, tracks funding and implementation of the Department’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategic Plan, and requires evaluating the establishment of Centers of Excellence to facilitate the entry of underrepresented populations in to international affairs careers.

·       Improves Treatment of Personnel: Strengthens efforts to prevent and respond to harassment and discrimination, including increasing staff in the Office of Civil Rights and codifying that personnel may be separated for criminal misconduct, including sexual assault. Requires sufficient staffing and resources for the Victims’ Resource Advocacy Program.

  • Strengthens Training and Professional Development: Supports increased training and professional development opportunities for the State Department workforce. Authorizes establishment of a non-partisan board to provide independent recommendations on curriculum and other reforms.
  • Reforms Embassy Security and Security Investigations: Reforms the Accountability Review Board (ARB) process and procedures for investigating serious security incidents at U.S. missions abroad, and provides greater flexibility for State on embassy construction to ensure that diplomats can better access and engage with local populations. Requires recommendations to streamline the security clearance approval process.
  • Advances Cyber Capabilities: Includes a robust cyber title to 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.
  • Strengthens Support for Americans Detained Abroad and their Families: Establishes a senior coordinator at State to coordinate with victims’ families so they receive consistent and accurate information, expands rewards for information that leads to arrest or other information involving those who unlawfully detain Americans abroad, and improves notification to Congress of wrongful detention determinations.
  • Supports Employees at the UN and International Organizations: Authorizes efforts to promote the 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.
  • Expands Post-Employment Restrictions for Representing Foreign Governments: Expands prohibitions on former senior State Department officials representing or advising adversary governments like China, Russia, Iran, Cuba, and Syria, and prohibits former secretaries and deputy secretaries from advising or representing any foreign government.