The House today approved House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman's comprehensive legislation to strengthen U.S. foreign policy efforts, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410).
The legislation provides the resources to add 1500 new Foreign Service officers over the next two years. It also contains provisions on recruitment and training to improve the diplomatic corps' ability to respond to modern challenges.
"The State Department and our other civilian foreign affairs agencies have a critical role to play in protecting U.S. national security," noted Chairman Berman. "Diplomacy, development and defense are the three key pillars of our national security. By wisely investing resources to strengthen our diplomatic capabilities, we can help prevent conflicts before they start, and head off the conditions that lead to failed states. This approach is much more cost-effective than providing massive amounts of humanitarian aid, funding peacekeeping operations, or -- in the most extreme circumstances -- putting U.S. boots on the ground."
The legislation requires the State Department to conduct a quadrennial review of its policies and programs that defines objectives, budget requirements and how these programs fit into the President's national security strategy.
Among other significant measures in the bill are provisions that:
strengthen the arms control and nonproliferation capabilities of the State Department;
reform the system of export controls for military technology and improve oversight of U.S. security assistance;
ensure that the United States will meet its financial commitments to the United Nations (U.N.) and other international organizations;
allow financing the refurbishment of helicopters for U.N. peacekeeping missions in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad and other peacekeeping missions authorized by the U.N. Security Council;
establish the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation as a new executive branch corporation to expand dramatically the number and economic diversity of U.S. students studying overseas;
substantially increase the budget of the Peace Corps to support President Obama's goal of doubling the number of Peace Corps volunteers, and authorize a plan to use short-term volunteers to respond to humanitarian and development needs;
broaden the Merida anti-drug trafficking initiative to include the Caribbean, and improve monitoring and evaluation of Merida programs; and
increase resources and training for enforcement of intellectual property rights, especially in countries identified by the U.S. government as lax in enforcing those rights.