House Amendment to S. 1635, Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017

H.Amdt. S. 1635

Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017

Sponsor
Sen. Bob Corker

Date
December 5, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Monday, December 5, 2016, the House will consider the House Amendment to S. 1635, the Department of State Authorities Act, Fiscal Year 2017, under suspension of the rules. S. 1635 was introduced by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) on June 18, 2015, and was passed by the Senate with amendments by unanimous consent, on April 28, 2016. The House Committee on Foreign Affairs ordered S. 1635 reported, as amended, on May 26, 2016.

Bill Summary

The House Amendment to S. 1635 authorizes the Department of State for Fiscal Year 2017. Specifically, the legislation:

Improves embassy and personnel security by:

  • Requiring the State Department to designate a list of high-risk, high-threat posts and prioritize resources and security for these posts;
  • Directing the State Department and Defense Department to jointly develop contingency plans for emergency situations;
  • Increasing the Department’s ability to hold personnel accountable for misconduct related to embassy security;
  • Enhancing security training requirements for personnel assigned to high-risk, high-threat posts;
  • Expanding the Department’s ability to transfer funds from other accounts for immediate embassy security needs;
  • Improving the integrity of U.S. passports

Improves Congressional and Inspector General oversight by:

  • Ensuring that the files and emails of the Inspector General are not accessible by unauthorized Department employees;
  • Increasing the Inspector General’s access to reported instances of waste, fraud, and abuse;
  • Mandating monthly briefings to Congress on embassy security, particularly for high-risk, high-threat posts.

Increases transparency at the United Nations and holds the UN accountable for sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers

  • Requires the Department to develop a comprehensive strategy and implementation plan for using U.S. influence at the UN to reduce sexual exploitations, peacekeeper misconduct, and abuse by peacekeeping forces;
  • Requires an annual report from the Office of Management and Budget on all U.S. contributions to the UN and a directive to seek a commitment from the UN to make peacekeeping credits available;
  • Requires the Comptroller General to conduct a study of the UN assessment formula for peacekeeping missions; and
  • Requires the Secretary to develop and maintain a publicly available list which identifies peacekeeping abuses and “countries of particular concern”.

For a full section-by-section, please click here.

Background

The Department of State has not been reauthorized within the last 15 years. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has passed an authorization bill in each of the last six Congresses, but the Senate has failed to pass a measure in the last 12 years.[1]

The Department of State operates 270 embassies, consulates and other posts with nearly 46,000 Foreign Service nationals, 13, 700 Foreign Service employees, and 11,000 Civil Service Corps.[2]

According to the Chairman, “The annual authorization of the Department of State is the signature legislative action of this Committee.[…] From improving oversight capacity of the Inspector General – an office this Committee successfully fought to have filled after sitting vacant for five years – to strengthening embassy security, today’s legislation improves the Committee’s ability to influence the agenda and activities of the Department of State. As a result of contributions from many members, this is a strengthened and important product; a bipartisan bill that bolsters this Committee’s role as overseer of State Department operations.  I look forward to seeing this measure advance.”[3]

———————
[1] See House Foreign Affairs Committee Markup Transcript, May 26, 2016 at 284.
[2] See Department of State Strategic Plan FY2014-2017 at 6.
[3] See the Committee on House Foreign Affairs Committee Press Release, May 26, 2016

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the House Amendment to S. 1635 would cost $37 million over the 2017-2021 period, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Enacting the legislation would affect direct spending, but those effects would be insignificant, and the bill 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 Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1828.