CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, September 14, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 2867 under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The resolution was introduced by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) on September 8, 2011 and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
H.R. 2867 would reduce the number of United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Reform members from nine to five (one each appointed by the President, House majority, House minority, Senate majority, and Senate minority).
The bill would limit Commission members to serving no more than two terms in a row, stagger member terms and require that members attend at least 75 percent of Commission meetings in order to be eligible for reappointment.
The bill would preclude the same member from serving as Chair for a second, consecutive term and would ensure that a working quorum is bipartisan by setting it at four members. H.R. 2867 would require that these changes apply prospectively, after the completion of current terms.
H.R. 2867 would specify that, for purposes of redress under various antidiscrimination laws (e.g., those dealing with employment discrimination, family and medical leave, veterans reemployment, Americans with Disabilities Act, etc.), Commission employees shall be treated the same as Congressional employees.
The bill would authorize Commission funding at $3 million for each of FY12 and FY13, a 30 percent cut from current-year (FY11) appropriated levels ($4.291 million).
H.R. 2867 would include a “standards of conduct and disclosure” section that would insert in the underlying statute the $250,000 cap that has been in place since FY10 in place of the nine-year-old $100,000 cap on how much of its annual funding the Commission may use to contract for temporary services (such as GSA administrative support, and project-specific translation and subject-matter expertise); and would correct/update the House Committee name in the underlying statute (from “International Relations” to “Foreign Affairs”).
H.R. 2867 would require a one-time report by GAO on the implementation of the Act, including a review of the effectiveness and interrelation of all U.S. Government programs to promote international religious freedom.
Lastly, the bill would extend the Commission’s sunset date by two years, to 2013, thus requiring further legislative action and reauthorization after the issuance of the GAO report.
At press time, there was no CBO score available for H.R. 2867.