Committee to Consider Measure Thursday

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee introduced a fiscally responsible State Department authorization bill to improve security at U.S. embassies and diplomatic facilities around the world.  H.R. 2848, the “Department of State Operations and Embassy Security Authorization Act for FY 2014,” authorizes $15.6 billion for State Department operations – a cut of approximately 9%, including more than $2.4 billion less for Diplomatic and Consular Programs, than levels appropriated in FY12 and FY13.  The Committee will consider the measure at a markup on Thursday, August 1 at 10 a.m.

The bill text and a section-by-section summary for H.R. 2848 are available HERE.

More than a decade has passed since the last State Department authorization was enacted into law in 2003.

Chairman Royce said:  “It has been far too long since a State Department authorization bill has been signed into law.  This fiscally responsible legislation will provide essential direction to the State Department regarding its operations.  The safety and security of U.S. personnel abroad is a top priority of the Foreign Affairs Committee.  Following the attack on the diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, we know that improving embassy security is essential.  This legislation makes substantial improvements to embassy security funding, procedures, and operations, especially at high-risk, high-threat posts.”    

In order to improve security, H.R. 2848:

  • authorizes $2.65 billion for embassy security, construction, and maintenance (includes $1.383 billion in capital cost sharing for new facilities where current facilities do not meet security needs; $101 million for facility security upgrades such as blast resistant doors/windows and retrofitting for protection against chemical and biological attacks);
  • requires the State Department to designate a list of high-risk, high-threat posts and mandates working groups to ensure these posts have necessary security measures and funding;
  • directs the State Department and Defense Department to jointly develop enhanced contingency plans for emergency situations, including planning for rapid deployment of military resources;
  • requires a strategic review of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security to ensure that its mission and activities are meeting current and projected needs;
  • encourages the Capital Security Cost Sharing Program to prioritize the construction of enhanced facilities and improvement of facilities at high-risk, high-threat posts;
  • allows the State Department to award security contracts for high-risk, high-threat facilities on a “best value” basis rather an on a “lowest cost” basis;
  • improves security for the children and families of U.S. diplomats abroad;
  • requires the State Department to make efforts to reduce the turnover of key personnel, including security providers, at high-risk, high-threat posts;
  • enhances security training requirements for personnel assigned to high-risk, high-threat posts;
  • authorizes funding for 156 additional Marine Corps Security Guards (MSG) at overseas posts and construction of 26 new Marine-operated access and egress points at high-risk, high-threat posts.

H.R. 2848 also:

  • allows the Secretary of state to suspend without pay a Foreign Service officer credibly accused of a crime;
  • caps the amount of locality pay that Foreign Service Officers are able to receive while stationed overseas.

The bill text and a section-by-section summary for H.R. 2848 are available HERE.

The Committee will also markup H.R. 419, the Taiwan Policy Act of 2013, which expresses support for Taiwan and strengthens the U.S.-Taiwan relationship politically, economically and through security assistance.