Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Year 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Date: July 17, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to thank the ranking member--and, indeed, all of the Members on both sides of the aisle--for all of the work that has gone into the drafting of this carefully targeted State Department authorization bill for fiscal year 2013.

Despite significant efforts by the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Department of State has been operating without legislative authority for nearly a decade. The last authorization bill to become law, coauthored by our esteemed former Chairmen Henry Hyde and Tom Lantos, was enacted in September of 2002. The lack of authorities in the intervening years has eroded Congress' foreign policy leverage with the Department of State. By enacting this bill, Congress will repair this lapse, strengthen our foreign policy oversight, and fulfill our obligation to the American public.

The text authorizes basic operations for the State Department, the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and the Peace Corps at fiscally responsible levels coordinated with the Appropriations Committee. This bill does not include any foreign aid authorities.

H.R. 6018 contains important management reforms to increase the efficiency, the accountability, and the safety of our personnel overseas. It reflects bipartisan concern that Congress needs to have a stronger oversight role in the State Department's expanding activities to promote cybersecurity with other governments around the world. It establishes important jurisdiction and oversight authority for the Department's Strategic Counterterrorism Communications Center, which is already operational.

By maintaining current funding for independent audits, inspections, and investigations of the State Department and the Peace Corps, H.R. 6018 ensures that, while we are tightening our belts, we will continue to ferret out waste, fraud, and abuse on behalf of the American taxpayer.

This bill will help American businesses by removing unreasonable obstacles and streamlining the arms export control process for exporting selected equipment and parts. At the same time, it will enhance U.S. security by increasing safeguards against the transfer of sensitive U.S. technologies to state sponsors of terrorism, to China, and to other countries subject to U.S. arms embargoes.

For all of these reasons, Mr. Speaker, H.R. 6018 deserves the bipartisan support that it has received so far and passage by the House this evening.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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