H.R. 1150, Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2015

H.R. 1150

Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2015

Date
May 16, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Molly Newell

Floor Situation

On Monday, May 16, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 1150, Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2015, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 1150 was introduced on February 27, 2015 by Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as Financial Services and Oversight and Government Reform. The Foreign Affairs Committee ordered the bill reported in the Nature of a Substitute by Unanimous Consent on April 20, 2016.

 

Bill Summary

H.R. 1150 would amend the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to improve the ability of the United States to advance religious freedom globally through enhanced diplomacy, training, counterterrorism, and foreign assistance efforts, and through stronger and more flexible political responses to religious freedom violations and violent extremism worldwide.

Specifically, H.R. 1150 would:

  • Clarify that the Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom is the principal coordinator for international religious freedom policies;
  • Require additional information to be included in the State Department’s Annual Report on Religious Freedom including the status and violations of religious freedom and United States policies;
  • Require Foreign Service officers to be trained on the importance of international religious freedom and how policy pertaining to that should be carried out; and
  • Require the Department of State to maintain and provide a list to Congress of foreign individuals who are sanctioned because they are responsible for being connected to severe violations of religious freedom.
  • Updates the 1998 Act to take into account religious persecution by non-state groups (e.g., ISIS, Boko Haram, etc.)

Background

The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, authored by Frank Wolf, made the promotion and protection of religious freedom a U.S. foreign policy priority. In order to monitor religious persecution, the bill created the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, an Office of Religious freedom within the Department of State that is headed by an Ambassador-at-Large, and a Special Advisor on International Religious Freedom within the National Security Council.

According to the bill sponsor, “The bill we passed fifteen years ago needs to be updated to match the new challenges of the 21st century. That is what we are doing with this bill—the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2015. We honor the author of the landmark International Religious Freedom Act by upgrading the tools, training, and resources used by the Administration to advance this fundamental freedom.”[1]

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[1] See “The Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act,” April 15, 2016.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that enacting H.R. 1150 would cost $1 million in 2017, less than $500,000 each year over the 2018-2021 period, and would total $2 million over the 2017-2021 period; such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply because enacting H.R. 1150 would not affect direct spending or revenues. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 1150 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.

 

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact Molly Newell with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.