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56

JUNE 2015

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

AFSA NEWS

AFSA ON THE HILL

AFSA Scores Victories, Garners Support

AFSA has been busy on the

Hill this spring.

Tenures and

Promotions

Capitalizing on lessons

learned last year, AFSA

started working early with

both majority and minor-

ity members of the Senate

Foreign Relations Committee,

the State Department and

USAID to urge confirmations

of the Foreign Service tenure

and promotion list.

Our efforts paid off. Just

before leaving town for recess

in March, the full Senate

confirmed the commission,

tenure and promotion of

374 members of the Foreign

Service.

We look forward to con-

tinuing to work with Chair-

man Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)

and minority members on

other important initiatives

such as the State Depart-

ment Authorization bill.

State Department

Reauthorization

Congress has not passed an

authorization bill for State

since 2002, and given that

different parties control the

executive and legislative

bodies, odds are against an

authorization this year, as

well. However, the authoriza-

tion language will feed into

the appropriations bills. That

is why AFSA has been actively

engaging the authorizers.

In fact, over the last two

years, AFSA has met with

members of Congress and

staff from both sides of the

aisle to discuss priorities

such as Overseas Compara-

bility Pay, security funding

and professional develop-

ment.

On April 15, we met with

the staff of the SFRC’s rank-

ing member, Senator Ben

Cardin (D-Md.), to discuss

these issues and convey our

support for him in his new

role. We have also simultane-

ously worked to partner with

the foreign affairs agencies to

advocate for OCP and other

issues.

This year, the department

submitted AFSA’s addendum

to the department’s Section

326 report on the “State of the Foreign Service Work- force” (see p. 60). We also

briefed Senate and House

committee staff on Foreign

Service-relevant provisions

of the Service Members Civil

Relief Act.

Thanks to these efforts

and to members like you

who have taken the time to

call, write and/or email your

elected officials, Congress

better understands and val-

ues the Foreign Service, the

sacrifices made by you and

your families and the extraor-

dinary contributions that you

are making to the well-being

of our country.

This progress was evident

during the April 22 testimony

by Deputy Secretary of

State for Management and

Resources Heather Higgin-

bottom before the SFRC on

the department’s reauthori-

zation.

In her opening statement,

the Deputy Secretary made

it clear that the adminis-

tration’s “top priority is to

secure [the third tranche

of] OCP....” (To read her full

statement, please visit www.

bit.ly/DMRSFRCtestimony.)

During the Q&A session,

Senator Cardin publicly

stated his support of full

OCP and made it clear that

he is ready to work with her

and State to make it part of

the 2016 State Department

Authorization Act, adding,

“American diplomats and

development professionals

are the best examples of tal-

ented people who are on the

front line for America.”

Several other SFRC mem-

bers joined the public praise

and recognized the impor-

tance of the Foreign Service:

“These men and women are

the best and the brightest,”

Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.)

said. “They’re working in

very tough situations. They

deserve our highest support,

and they’re doing a fantastic

job right now.”

This strong statement of

support for OCP—the stron-

gest made in the past several

years—gets us closer to pro-

viding long overdue justice to

rank-and-file Foreign Service

employees and their families.

While we do not expect

a reauthorization, most

experts forecast either a con-

tinuing resolution or another

“CRomnibus.” AFSA’s work

with the authorizers will be

key to preventing cuts to the

international affairs budget

(aka the “150 Account”)

during the appropriations

process.

International Affairs

Budget

The House passed its budget

resolution (H.Con.Res. 27) on

March 25, despite opposition

by AFSA and the Federal-

Postal Coalition to certain

components. The measure

“American diplomats and development professionals are the

best examples of talented people who are on the front line for

America.”

—Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.)