The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today passed the Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty Embassy Security, Threat Mitigation, and Personnel Protection Act of 2013 to prevent future attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts.
The bipartisan legislation was introduced by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN).
On July 16, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on embassy security.
"Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has taken a meaningful step in improving the security of our embassies in foreign countries, the safety of our diplomats, and the promotion of U.S. national security interests," said Menendez. "We must recognize that many of our diplomats and personnel work in dangerous environments abroad, which makes it the responsibility of Congress to do all within its power to protect them. This is a time for solutions, and this bipartisan bill is a sign of our unequivocal and unwavering commitment to fully protect our embassies and those who serve this nation abroad."
The bill will authorize funding for key items identified by the Accountability Review Board on Benghazi, including embassy security and construction; language training; and improved and integrated Foreign Affairs Security Training for State Department personnel. It provides contract authority to the State Department to allow it to award contracts on a best value basis, rather than to the lowest bidder, where conditions require enhanced levels of security. The revised contract authority is particularly important for local guard contracts where it is essential that contract personal are adequately trained to provide security at foreign posts.
The bill also requires detailed reports from the State Department on its progress toward implementing all of the recommendations made by the Accountability Review Board and requires the identification of and reporting on security at high-risk, high-threat posts.