H.R. 440: To provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia

H.R. 440

To provide for the establishment of the Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia

Sponsor
Rep. Frank Wolf

Date
July 26, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

On Monday, July 25, 2011, the House is scheduled consider H.R. 440 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 January 25, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Bill Summary

H.R. 440 would provide for the establishment of a Special Envoy to Promote Religious Freedom of Religious Minorities in the Near East and South Central Asia.  The bill would direct the president to appoint such an envoy consisting of individuals recognized with distinctions in the field of human rights and religious freedom. 

The bill would require the Special Convoy to carry out the following duties: 

  1. “Promote the right of religious freedom of religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia, denounce the violation of such right, and recommend appropriate responses by the United States Government when such right is violated;
  2. “Monitor and combat acts of religious intolerance and incitement targeted against religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia;
  3. “Work to ensure that the unique needs of religious minority communities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia are addressed, including the economic and security needs of such communities;
  4. “Work with foreign governments of the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia to address laws that are inherently discriminatory toward religious minority communities in such countries;
  5. “Coordinate and assist in the preparation of that portion of the report relating to the nature and extent of religious freedom of religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia; and
  6. “Coordinate and assist in the preparation of that portion of the report relating to the nature and extent of religious freedom of religious minorities in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia.” 

H.R. 440 would require that in carrying out their duties, the Special Envoy must, to the maximum extent practicable, coordinate with the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration of the Department of State, the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and other relevant federal agencies and officials.

The bill would authorize the Special Envoy to represent the United States in matters and cases relevant to religious freedom in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia in contacts with foreign governments, intergovernmental organizations, and specialized agencies of the United Nations, the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other international organizations of which the United States is a member; and multilateral conferences and meetings relevant to religious freedom in the countries of the Near East and the countries of South Central Asia.

H.R. 440 would require the Special Envoy to consult with domestic and international nongovernmental organizations and multilateral organizations and institutions, as the Special Envoy considers appropriate to fulfill their purposes.

The bill would require that of the amounts made available for “Diplomatic and Consular Programs” for fiscal years 2011 through 2015, $1,000,000 be made available to the Special Envoy for each such fiscal year for the hiring of staff, for the conduct of investigations, and for necessary travel to carry out the provisions of this Act.

H.R. 440 would also define "Near East" as Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and including the West Bank and Gaza Strip.  The bill would also define "South Central Asia" as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

Cost

At press time, the Congressional Budget Office has not produced a score for H.R. 440.