For the first time in 14 years, the U.S. Senate passed a State Department authorization bill –unanimously at that– and sent it on to the House for its consideration. The U.S. Department of State Authorization Act of 2016 was voted out on Friday. Earlier in the week, a similar measure covering fiscal year 2017 was passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Georgia Senator David Perdue is chairman of the subcommittee responsible for the measures, and had this to say:
This bipartisan authorization is long overdue but it is encouraging amidst all of the dysfunction in Washington. We were able to come together and reassert Congressional oversight of the State Department. As Chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee with direct oversight of the State Department, I worked hard to make sure our committee’s concerns were addressed in both of these authorizations. We have made improvements to streamline the State Department’s management operations and prioritized security upgrades to protect Americans serving abroad.
The 2016 Authorization Act, which originally passed the Foreign Relations Committee last June, contains several amendments offered by Senator Perdue. One amendment incorporates the Improving the Department of State Oversight Act, which was introduced by Perdue and Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia last year. Other amendments offered by Perdue require the Secretary of State to produce a strategy for the Middle East that takes into consideration the Iran nuclear deal and condemns the Palestinian Authority for inciting anti Israel sentiment. A fourth amendment requires the Secretary of State to produce additional documents concerning the Foreign Affairs Security Training Center, which the Georgia delegation had hoped to have been located in Brunswick.
The 2017 authorization bill contains two provisions offered by Senator Perdue. Once deals with congressional oversight of embassy construction, while the other deals with workforce issues in the Foreign Service. That measure moves to the full Senate for consideration.