Kerry, Lugar Introduce Legislation To Strengthen U.S. Diplomacy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) and Ranking Member Dick Lugar (R-IN) today introduced comprehensive bi-partisan legislation that will provide authority, policy guidance, and operational oversight to the State Department.
The Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 supports provisions to improve the State Department’s public diplomacy mission and to increase the foreign service officer capacity. It will also significantly increase the inspector general’s oversight abilities, address extending comparability pay adjustments to members of the Foreign Service, and provide enhancements to consular services.
“If the first decade of the twenty-first century taught us anything about national security, it is that we require more than a strong military to meet our global challenges – diplomacy is an essential element of our national power. This legislation demonstrates our bipartisan commitment to building the civilian capacity necessary to accomplish our nation’s foreign policy objectives. This is precisely the moment when our investment in diplomacy is most needed and this bill provides our diplomatic corps with essential tools, authorities and resources to succeed in the tough jobs we continually require of them. The last time a State Department authorization bill was passed was in 2002, we believe it’s the right time for the Committee to consider this important piece of legislation,” said Chairman Kerry.
“Our diplomatic corps is on the front lines of our national security efforts. Whether protecting our nation by combating terrorism, helping American companies find new markets overseas, or assisting American citizens during natural disasters, these men and women help make our country stronger and safer. At the same time, they provide much needed assistance to train foreign police forces, treat HIV/AIDS patients in nations with dire needs, promote press and internet freedoms in repressive regimes and facilitate international adoptions. This bill continues the Committee’s long-standing tradition of providing the State Department, the US Agency for International Development and US Broadcasting entities with the needed tools and personnel to address the ever-changing challenges they face,” said Ranking Member Lugar.
Modernize the State Department and Build the Capacity of U.S. Diplomacy:
- Authorizes vital programs and initiatives to support key priorities around the world for our Foreign Service corps and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) professionals.
- Addresses critical deficiencies in conflict prevention, mitigation and resolution training for diplomats deployed to conflict areas such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Sudan.
Increase Accountability of Our Diplomatic and Development Programs:
- Strengthens the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) by providing critical hiring flexibility that will greatly improve OIG’s ability to compete for, recruit and retain and qualified personnel.
- Provides important authorities to the Office of the Inspector General for USAID to allow annuitants to be rehired for critical priority posts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, which are under-filled and difficult to recruit for.
Strengthen U.S. Public Diplomacy
- Promotes a reexamination of the public diplomacy strategy for the United States to include publicly accessible American Centers, clarifies authorities relating to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and enhances the contribution of scientific and technical knowledge to the pursuit of U.S. foreign policy objectives.
Reform Refugee, Visa, and Passport Processing
- Makes a number of reforms to better ensure the reunification of refugees with family members.
- Increases passport fraud prevention capability at the State Department.
Renew Commitment to International Organizations and Related Provisions
- Authorizes U.S. reengagement with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), the oldest parliamentary association in the world. The IPU promotes greater parliamentary involvement and oversight in international affairs, and brings together over 150 national parliaments to promote human rights, good governance, and women’s full participation in politics.
- Provides several necessary legislative fixes for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which will allow the MCC to develop concurrent and subsequent Compacts so it can better fulfill its mission of fighting poverty and fostering sustainable economic growth in the poorest countries around the world. It also allows a candidate country graduating out of an income category retain its candidacy at the lower income category for the year of its transition and for one subsequent fiscal year.”
- Provides important authorities to allow USAID to support and fund community policing efforts and to also ensure funding for assistance to combat trafficking in persons, sexual and gender-based violence, reduce corruption, prevent conflict, and response to disasters. The legislation also supports appropriate training for law enforcement services in internationally recognized standards of human rights, the rule of law and democratic governance.
# # #
Next Article Previous Article