Washington, D.C. – The House today passed the Embassy Security Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2019 (H.R. 4969) to improve the design and construction of diplomatic posts. By strengthening oversight and management of construction of new facilities, we can better protect our diplomats and save taxpayer dollars.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“The U.S. Department of State operates more than 270 diplomatic posts around the world, often in difficult – and sometimes hostile – environments. These embassies and consulates project American power and reflect our values. And they protect the lives of the Americans who work in and visit them each day. We owe it to the American people and those who serve us overseas to build the most secure, effective and efficient embassies and consulates possible.

Each day, thousands of brave Americans serve our country at our embassies and consulates overseas. These facilities are America’s outposts of democracy. While our diplomats serve overseas, it is our job to ensure that they have the resources and support they need. This bill will do just that by authorizing critical resources for embassy security, construction and maintenance; enhancing worldwide security protection; and improving oversight of embassy design and construction.

The threats facing our embassies and diplomats overseas are real, and we need to respond. The reported sonic attacks against our diplomats serving in Havana serve as a stark reminder of the real and complex security challenges they face on a daily basis. Yet, the last time Congress authorized resources for enhanced embassy security was immediately after al Qaida bombed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Over 220 people were killed and 4,000 others were injured in those attacks.

On August 7, we solemnly recognized the 20th anniversary of those cowardly attacks. We must thus strengthen our resolve to do everything within our power to prevent another Nairobi – another Dar es Salaam – by constructing the safest, most secure and most appropriate diplomatic posts around the world. That starts with this bill – which, if enacted, will be the first embassy security authorization in 15 years.

Since the east Africa embassy bombings, the State Department has used several different approaches to design and construct new posts quickly and efficiently. This is no small task, but what has become clear is that effective congressional oversight of these projects is essential to ensuring their success.

That’s why this bill promotes efficient contracting methods, ensures that facilities meet security and safety standards, and engages with the State Department in an effective long-range planning process for new projects.

I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 4969, which will improve the security, effectiveness and efficiency of America’s embassies and consulates.”