June 18, 2019

House Passes New Democrat Coalition-Led Amendment to Strengthen State Department Mission, Advance U.S. National Security Priorities

The Amendment, led by National Security Task Force Co-Chairs, passed the House of Representatives in H.R. 2740

During floor consideration, the House of Representatives passed a New Democrat Coalition-led amendment in H.R. 2740, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Legislative Branch, Defense, State, Foreign Operations, and Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, 2020.

The National Security Task Force Co-Chairs, led by Rep. Abigail Spanberger (VA-07) and co-sponsored by Reps. Brad Schneider (IL-10), Anthony Brown (MD-04), and Brendan Boyle (PA-02), offered an amendment to act upon and expand a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study on the impact of personnel vacancies at the Department of State on our country’s national security and foreign policy objectives. 

“Persistent vacancies at U.S. embassies and consulates around the world undermine the effectiveness of U.S. diplomatic efforts and can jeopardize our national security priorities. By failing to fill these critical positions, particularly among senior political appointees, we are significantly reducing our ability to respond to emerging crises and reducing U.S. leadership and engagement with key allies and partners,” said National Security Task Force Co-Chair Abigail Spanberger (VA-07). “We must demonstrate our support for Foreign Service and civil service personnel as they advance our interests abroad—and I’m proud to stand alongside my co-chairs on the New Democrat Coalition National Security Task Force as we introduce our amendment to encourage the State Department to assess critical vacancies. By filling vacancies, we can better protect American lives, further promote American values overseas, and continue to address the factors that fuel instability and violence around the world. As a former CIA case officer, I recognize the invaluable contributions of these dedicated public servants—and I’ll keep fighting to reassert the need for principled U.S. global leadership.”

Through the Department of State, the U.S. expands the reach of democratic values, the rule of law, economic prosperity, and stability around the world, advancing U.S. national security interests and foreign policy objectives. Failure to fill key roles at the State Department is a disservice to our country, to the individuals who risk their lives to in support of that mission, and to the taxpayers who expect us to represent and defend them and their interests, at home and abroad.

The purpose of the amendment is to encourage the Department of State to implement recommendations of the Government Accountability Office study GAO-19-220, which found that the Foreign Service vacancies at the Department of State may undermine U.S. foreign policy objectives and increase national security risks. We believe the GAO should also expand the study to include the impact of vacancies in senior leadership and politically appointed position at the Department of State on the United States’ ability to meet its foreign policy, diplomacy, aid, and national security priorities and objectives.