First State Dept. Authorization Bill to Clear the House Since 2013

Washington—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Michael McCaul, the Committee’s Ranking Member, today welcomed unanimous House passage of their legislation authorizing the Department of State for 2020. This authorization bill, H.R. 3352, is the first such legislation to pass the House of Representatives since 2013.

“If we’re serious about diplomacy and development as critical parts of our foreign policy and essential to our national security, then there is absolutely no reason that a State Department authorization bill shouldn’t be part of Congress’s regular work,” said Chairman Engel on the House floor. “Our Committee has shown again and again that we can work together in a bipartisan way to advance our country’s security. We pass a lot of legislation, often small fixes around the edges to get at a particular challenge. With an authorization bill, we’re sending a stronger message to our diplomats: as you carry out your critical—and often dangerous—work, we’re going to have your backs.”

“In the 16 years since authorization lapsed, we have seen too many taxpayer dollars wasted on inefficient hiring and procurements, an expanding bureaucracy, and an outdated IT system that left us vulnerable to cyber-attacks from foreign Nation States and hackers,” Lead Republican McCaul said in his floor speech. “It is a fundamental duty of the Foreign Affairs Committee to pass an annual authorization bill.  This is necessary to fulfill our Constitutional Article I oversight responsibilities, and our obligation to be good stewards of the people’s money. I am proud to have worked with Chairman Engel to draft this critical and overdue authorization bill.”

The Department of State Authorization Act of 2019 includes provisions to strengthen the management and operations of the Department of State. This includes measures to recruit and retain a diverse workforce, bolster embassy and information security, and improve the Department’s capacity to carry out public diplomacy, anti-corruption activities, and security assistance.

The bill authorizes activities and positions in a number of key Department bureaus and offices, and authorizes funding for Embassy Security, Construction, and Maintenance account. Among other things, this bill also streamlines and improves the Department’s management structure, providing cost-saving measures in embassy construction while maintaining security and eliminating duplicative programs and outdated reports.

Additionally, it ensures the efficiency of various programs by mandating rigorous planning processes and evaluation metrics.

Click here for a section-by-section summary of the bill.

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