18 DECEMBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL What is clear is the bipartisan support for continued investments in soft power, particularly at a time when diplomatic and development challenges have grown not only in number but complexity. —Chairman Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-Ky.), at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, Nov. 1. USAID is an essential component of our national security. And I am confident that you believe as do I that international development is critical to maintaining U.S. global leader- ship and protecting our national security. —Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, Nov. 1. We have all chosen to be here because we do deeply understand that the ideals of USAID and America’s very generous commitment to try to solve humanitar- ian problems—because we benefit both economically and culturally, but also it creates international stability—is essen- tial for our national security. —Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, Nov. 1. The reality is, the United States has to lead. A lot of people resent that, but it’s just the truth. If we don’t lead, who in the world will? —Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), at the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs, Nov. 1. JOSH Heard on the Hill groups, fight HIV/AIDS and finance elec- tion monitoring—all of which advance U.S. interests. The two former Secretaries also explained why nation-building, interna- tional trade and a free press are all critical to our success as a nation. “Nation-build- ing is not a four-letter word,” Albright bluntly told the ambassador, while Rice took the opportunity to promote the importance of international cooperation. The conference provided an increas- ingly rare opportunity for bipartisan discussion on the topic of defending democratic and free-market principles. Buyouts? What Buyouts? R umors about a buyout offer at the State Department have been swirl- ing for months, even as the department has denied that a major staff reduction is in the works. The amount was going to be $40,000, then $25,000. In September, the Senate Appropria- tions Committee rejected the adminis- tration’s proposed 30 percent budget cut for State and USAID in September, and called for the department to maintain 2016 staffing levels. Responding to AFSA President Ambassador Barbara Stephenson’s December column, “Time to Ask Why” (which was shared ahead of publication; see pages 7 and 9), the State Department told media outlets that suggestions of drastic cuts to the Foreign Service are not accurate. The deparment’s statement pointed to the “employee-led” redesign effort: “The goal of the redesign has always been to find new ways to best leverage our team’s brains, ingenuity, and com- mitment to serving our nation’s inter- ests. AFSA and other employee groups are important partners in the redesign effort. As has been said many times before, the freezes on hiring and promo- tions are only temporary while we study how to refine our organization.” Then on Nov. 10, The New York Times reported that the State Department “will soon offer a $25,000 buyout to diplomats and staff members who quit or take early retirements by April.” Government Executive reported on Nov. 13 that the State Department had confirmed the buyouts, citing a need to “reduce unnec- essary supervisory levels and organiza- tional layering.” n This edition of Talking Points was compiled by Donna Gorman, Dmitry Filipoff, Shawn Dorman and Susan Maitra.