May 15, 2009

House Foreign Affairs Committee Seeks Increase in Study Abroad Opportunities

By jnurse

Yesterday (May 14th), legislation was introduced in the House Foreign Affairs Committee that would advance provisions of the Paul Simon Study Abroad Act.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Release

Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today introduced wide-ranging legislation to improve and support U.S. foreign policy efforts, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410).

“Defense, diplomacy and development are the three pillars of our national security,” Berman said. “But in recent years, diplomacy and development have been short-changed. In order to meet the aims of American foreign policy today, we need to rebuild capacity in these critical areas.”

The legislation authorizes hiring 1500 additional Foreign Service Officers over the next two years and contains provisions on recruitment and training of officers to improve the Foreign Service’s ability to respond to modern challenges. It requires the State Department to conduct a quadrennial review of its policies and programs that defines objectives, budget requirements and how these programs fit into the President’s national security strategy.

Among other significant measures in the bill are provisions that:

  • ensure that the United States will meet its financial commitments to the United Nations (U.N.) and other international organizations
  • allow financing the refurbishment of helicopters for U.N. peacekeeping missions in Darfur, the Republic of Congo and Chad
  • establish the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation as a new executive branch corporation to expand dramatically the number and economic diversity of U.S. students studying overseas
  1. To help at least 1 million undergraduates study abroad annually within 10 years;
  2. To expand study abroad opportunities for students who are currently underrepresented; and,
  3. To increase the number of students that study abroad in non-traditional destinations
  • end the long-standing practice of excluding the committed partners of Foreign Service officers from the benefits routinely provided to the spouses and children of officers serving abroad
  • support the Administration’s plan to double the size of the Peace Corps, and authorize a plan to use short-term volunteers to respond to humanitarian and development needs worldwide
  • broaden the Merida anti-drug trafficking initiative to include the Caribbean, and improve monitoring and evaluation of Merida programs
  • and increase resources and training for enforcement of intellectual property rights, especially in countries identified by the U.S. government as lax in enforcing those rights.

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