WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today presided over a hearing on reauthorization of the U.S. Department of State. The committee heard testimony from Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom.
“One of our top priorities in this committee is to restore regular committee consideration of a State Department authorization bill – reviving a process that will help the department become more efficient and effective within a sustainable budget. The purpose of this hearing is to discuss some of the opportunities involved in reauthorizing State Department operations for the first time in over a decade,” said Corker. “As we build toward a bill that I hope will achieve bipartisan consensus, we have been studying the State Department’s budget, considering its requests for new authorities, and examining ways to make existing programs more effective and efficient.”
Noting an 11 percent increase in the president’s fiscal year 2016 budget request for State Department operations, Corker raised concerns about the U.S. contributing a disproportionate share of funding for United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping missions compared to other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.
“A significant part of that inflated request is due to the increasing financial burden of U.N. peacekeeping. The U.S. contributes more than any other permanent member of the U.N. Security Council – all of the them combined – and our share is still going up. Coupled with an increase in peacekeeping missions around the world, this will only place added pressure on other priorities,” he said.
Corker also identified a number of other areas for potential savings and streamlining of the department’s operations, including the proliferation of special envoys and representatives, the necessity of certain special payments and allowances for foreign service officers, and the lack of accountability for implementing a more efficient global footprint for U.S. diplomatic presence.
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