The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today approved three bills spearheaded by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL). The bills deal with opposition to an international effort to regulate the Internet, demanding greater transparency and accountability in U.S. foreign aid programs and requiring a regular four year strategic review of U.S. foreign policy programs and objectives.
"I am pleased that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has moved forward with these efforts to oppose international efforts to regulate the Internet and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being well spent in our foreign aid programs and in advancing our diplomatic and foreign policy goals," said Rubio. "Each of these efforts represents the ability to unite along bipartisan lines and speak with one voice to ensure that America's role in the world as a force for security, freedom and human rights is reinforced and that every taxpayer dollar spent to advance these goals actually does just that."
S.Con.Res. 50 is a bipartisan resolution Rubio introduced with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) calling on the U.S. government to reinforce its commitment to Internet freedom by opposing international efforts to cede greater Internet regulatory power to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). Last year, China, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan proposed an "international code of conduct" in an attempt to justify greater government control over the Internet and standardize international rules and behavior concerning cyberspace and information. These and other nations have been calling for more regulation over how the Internet operates and pushing to give the United Nations and ITU unprecedented control over Internet governance at the upcoming World Conference on International Telecommunications in December, when 193 countries will meet in Dubai to update the International Telecommunications Regulations (ITRs).
The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review Act of 2012 was jointly introduced by Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rubio with the goal of regularly updating U.S. foreign policy and assistance programs priorities to reflect the challenges of the 21st century. This bill requires every administration to conduct a Quadrennial Defense and Diplomacy Review to provide short, medium and long-term guidance for American diplomatic and foreign aid efforts. It seeks to lengthen American foreign policy planning beyond the year-to-year, appropriations-based practice and to integrate diplomacy and development missions under one planning process.
A substitute amendment co-authored by Senators Rubio and Richard Lugar (R-IN) to the Foreign Aid Transparency and Accountability Act of 2012 was also adopted by the committee today. As amended, S. 3310 would mandate specific timeframes for federal agencies administering foreign aid programs to monitor, evaluate, and publish foreign assistance information on the internet. In response to our nation's dire fiscal situation, the bill will require federal agencies to compensate for any administrative costs of implementation by making reductions elsewhere in their budgets.