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Kerry Introduces Legislation To Authorize and Strengthen The State Department And U.S. Diplomacy

Washington, DC – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) today introduced the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2012-13, which authorizes vital programs and initiatives to support key diplomatic and foreign policy priorities around the world and demonstrates Congress’ strong commitment to supporting the U.S. Foreign Service corps and development professionals. The legislation provides resources to support all aspects of the State Department’s diplomatic mission, strengthens accountability and oversight of U.S. diplomatic and development programs, enhances U.S. public diplomacy, and offers a renewed commitment to global development efforts, cyberspace coordination, and Internet freedom.

“We face tremendous foreign policy and national security challenges worldwide, from helping countries manage peaceful, democratic transitions in the Middle East, to preventing violence, conflict, and terrorism from engulfing key partners, and to leading humanitarian responses to forestall drought, famine, and natural disasters,” said Chairman Kerry. “We are only able to achieve these aims with a strong State Department and USAID. This legislation demonstrates our commitment to building our nation’s civilian capacity and providing our diplomatic corps with the essential tools, authorities, and resources to succeed in the demanding jobs we continually require of them.”

Summary of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013

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 for U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) professionals. 
  • Provides resources to support all aspects of the State Department’s diplomatic mission: embassy maintenance, construction and security, diplomatic and consular funding, UN assessments and peacekeeping, public diplomacy, migration and refugee assistance, as well as resources for the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the Peace Corps.
  • Supports conflict prevention and conflict resolution missions and training for diplomats deployed to conflict-prone areas, such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Sudan.

Increase Accountability of Our Diplomatic and Development Programs:

  • Directs the President to develop and implement a rigorous system to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of U.S. foreign assistance that will ensure comprehensive coverage, credibility, lack of bias, transparency, the generation of high quality information and knowledge, and facilitate comparability of results.
  • Strengthens the Offices of the Inspector General for the State Department and for USAID by providing important hiring flexibility that will greatly improve the OIGs’ ability to compete for, recruit, and retain qualified personnel.

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.

Renewed Commitment to Global Development, Cyberspace, and Internet Freedom:

  • Establishes that it is the policy of the United States to promote broad-based, sustainable global development, reduce poverty, and eliminate extreme global poverty by maximizing good development principles and key reforms, supporting and integrating principles of sustainable development, expanding and leveraging public-private sector partnerships investing in innovation, and enhancing transparency.
  • Authorizes the establishment of a senior cyber coordinator at the State Department to enhance our international engagement on international cyber issues.
  • Establishes that the exercise of fundamental freedoms through the Internet and other communications technology are foreign policy and development priorities, and provides a structure for the State Department, USAID, and the Broadcasting Board of Governors to utilize a variety of tools and mechanisms to protect and promote access.