Text: H.R.1327 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (03/21/2013)


113th CONGRESS
1st Session
H. R. 1327


To improve United States humanitarian and other assistance to the Syrian people, facilitate the transition of Syria to a democratic government, provide for United States support to the post-Assad government, and for other purposes.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

March 21, 2013

Mr. Engel (for himself, Mr. Rogers of Michigan, and Mr. Sherman) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees on Financial Services and the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To improve United States humanitarian and other assistance to the Syrian people, facilitate the transition of Syria to a democratic government, provide for United States support to the post-Assad government, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Free Syria Act of 2013”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds the following:

(1) For decades the Syrian people have suffered under the oppressive regime of Bashar al-Assad and his father, Hafiz al-Assad. In March 2011, Syrians began peaceful protests against the regime. The regime responded brutally, with murders and mass arrests. During the civil war that ensued, the Assad regime has specifically targeted civilian populations and committed mass atrocities and other war crimes.

(2) Over 1,000,000 Syrians have become refugees over the last two years, tens of thousands of others have fled Syria, and more than 2,500,000 are estimated to be displaced within Syria. More than 70,000 Syrians have been killed in the conflict.

(3) The replacement of the Assad regime by a democratic government that repudiates terrorism would advance the security of the Syrian people and their neighbors, as well as that of the United States.

(4) The prolongation of fighting in Syria is likely to enhance the strength of religious extremist forces, as well as the prospect that such forces will exert significant influence following Assad’s fall.

(5) The Governments of Iran and Russia continue to provide the Assad regime with the advanced weapons and support necessary to continue its campaign of slaughter against its own people.

(6) Syria is one of the most hazardous environments in the world for humanitarian aid providers. The Syrian regime has established a pattern of targeting aid distribution points, including bakeries, bread lines, medical facilities, and even employees of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

(7) The course of the Syrian transition and its future leadership may depend on what the United States does now to save Syrian lives, alleviate suffering, and help Syrians determine their own future.

(8) Syria has been on the United States list of state sponsors of terrorism since the inception of that list in 1979. Under the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, Syria’s continuing provision of material support and safe haven for terrorist organizations make it subject to broad legislatively mandated penalties, including export sanctions and ineligibility to receive most forms of United States aid or to purchase United States military equipment.

SEC. 3. Sense of Congress.

It is the sense of the Congress that—

(1) the United States should increase its humanitarian support for individuals affected by the brutal conflict in Syria—refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and others—and should urge its friends and allies to do likewise;

(2) Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon should be commended for keeping their borders open and providing other support to individuals fleeing the violence and upheaval in Syria and for allowing them to seek international protection;

(3) the President should urge countries in the region to keep their borders open to refugees and to comply with international humanitarian and refugee law;

(4) the President should urge the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to expedite protection and resettlement of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees;

(5) in view of the violence and bloodshed in Syria, the President should provide temporary immigration relief measures, including renewal of Temporary Protected Status, expedited requests for change or extension of nonimmigrant status, expedited processing of immigrant petitions for Syrians in the United States, and granting humanitarian parole to Syrian nationals with approved immigrant petitions waiting abroad;

(6) to the extent feasible, the United States should coordinate its assistance to Syrian refugees and to individuals inside Syria with the Syrian Opposition Coalition’s Assistance Coordination Unit;

(7) the Assad regime has committed manifold war crimes and crimes against humanity, and the individuals responsible must be brought to justice;

(8) the United States should pursue appropriate mechanisms to hold accountable individuals responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria;

(9) United States military assistance should be provided only to groups that demonstrate a commitment to—

(A) securing and safeguarding, and ultimately eliminating, Syrian chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons-related materials that come under their control;

(B) full cooperation with the United States and the international community in accomplishing that goal; and

(C) respecting all previous international agreements that have been signed by Syria, including agreements reached under the auspices of the United Nations;

(10) the United States should work in cooperation with its friends and allies to provide non-lethal military equipment, such as helmets and body armor, to friendly Syrian opposition military forces;

(11) all countries, and especially Iraq, should deny use of their airspace to Syrian-bound Iranian aircraft, unless those aircraft have first been forced to land, are thoroughly inspected, and found to be weapons-free; and

(12) the United States and its international partners should take concrete steps to ensure that women are full and equal participants in all negotiations regarding the future of Syria and in all transitional and future government institutions.

SEC. 4. Definitions.

In this Act—

(1) the term “appropriate congressional committees” means the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate;

(2) the term “economic assistance” means foreign assistance other than assistance provided to or for the benefit of foreign security forces;

(3) the term “entity” means any association, partnership, body, organization, unit, or group;

(4) the term “foreign terrorist organization” means an organization designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 219(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189(a));

(5) the terms “humanitarian assistance” and “humanitarian accounts” include—

(A) assistance under chapter 9 of Part I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961;

(B) emergency food assistance under title II of the Food for Peace Act (Public Law 83–480);

(C) refugee and migration assistance under the Migration and Refugee Act of 1962; and

(D) any other economic assistance provided to address basic human needs;

(6) the term “post-Assad Government of Syria” means a government of Syria that meets the requirements specified in section 301(a);

(7) the terms “defense article”, “defense information”, “defense service”, “military education and training”, and “value” have the meanings given such terms in section 644 of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2403);

(8) the term “Administrator” means the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development; and

(9) the term “Secretary” means the Secretary of State.

TITLE IHumanitarian and Economic Assistance

SEC. 101. Humanitarian principles.

United States humanitarian assistance to address the Syrian conflict shall be conducted in accordance with the following principles:

(1) The central purpose of humanitarian assistance is to save lives, alleviate human suffering, and protect vulnerable populations wherever possible.

(2) Humanitarian assistance should be impartial, based solely on and in proportion to need, without discrimination between or within affected populations, and without regard to the political views, national origin, or religious affiliation of the beneficiaries.

(3) Humanitarian assistance should be neutral, without furthering a political or religious agenda or favoring any side in an armed conflict or other dispute where such humanitarian assistance is carried out.

(4) Humanitarian assistance should be independent, without regard to the political, economic, military, or other objectives that any actor may hold in relation to the affected areas and populations.

(5) Humanitarian assistance should be undertaken in accordance with international human rights law, international humanitarian law, refugee law, and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

(6) Humanitarian assistance includes protection of affected populations from physical harm, persecution, exploitation, abuse, family separation, sexual and gender-based violence, forcible recruitment, and other threats to human rights.

(7) To best ensure impartiality, neutrality, independence, and the appearance thereof, humanitarian assistance should be carried out by intergovernmental and nongovernmental international humanitarian organizations, in partnership with local communities and indigenous organizations.

(8) To promote learning, accountability, transparency, and the efficient use of resources, the United States should support independent monitoring and evaluation of all humanitarian assistance.

SEC. 102. Protecting women, children, and other vulnerable populations.

Of the amounts made available for any fiscal year to carry out this Act, the President is authorized, notwithstanding any other provision of law, to provide such assistance as may be necessary for protection of populations affected by the conflict in Syria, especially including—

(1) clinical care and psychosocial support for sexual violence survivors;

(2) improving safety for women, children, and other vulnerable populations, in camps and settlements for refugees and internally displaced persons;

(3) working to minimize forced marriage, domestic violence, and sexual exploitation; and

(4) case management for separated and other vulnerable children.

SEC. 103. Medical neutrality.

(a) Prohibition.—No assistance may be provided under this Act to any entity if the Secretary of State has credible evidence that such entity knowingly has been involved in—

(1) organized attacks on health care facilities, health care providers, patients, medical transport, medical supplies, or medical records;

(2) preventing medical professionals from administering ethical medical care to individuals in need; or

(3) the arbitrary arrest or detention of health care service providers or individuals seeking medical care.

(b) Requirement.—Any agreement for the provision of medical or health-related assistance under this Act shall expressly require that such assistance shall be used in accordance with the principles established in the Geneva Conventions and the World Medical Association’s International Code of Medical Ethics for health care providers.

SEC. 104. Transfer authority.

In addition to other authorities available to transfer funds, the Secretary of State may exercise the authority under this section to transfer to, and merge with, any humanitarian account such sums as may be necessary from amounts which have been made available to carry out any provision of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, and which have not been specifically designated by law for any particular program or activity, to address humanitarian needs arising as a result of the conflict in Syria.

SEC. 105. Emergency refugee and migration assistance.

Section 2(c) of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962 (22 U.S.C. 2601(c)) is amended in paragraph (1), by striking “President” and inserting “Secretary of State”.

SEC. 106. Economic assistance to opposition-allied local coordination committees.

Of the amounts made available for any fiscal year to carry out this Act, the President is authorized to make available such assistance as may be necessary to enhance the capacity, performance, and accountability of Syrian opposition-allied local coordination committees, including support for—

(1) providing basic services to civilian populations;

(2) carrying out administrative and management functions;

(3) improving communications, transparency, and public outreach;

(4) prevention, research, and documentation of mass atrocities;

(5) increasing understanding of and respect for internationally recognized human rights and democratic principles; and

(6) preparing for a peaceful, democratic transition.

SEC. 107. Civilian broadcasting to Syria.

(a) Authorization of United States civilian broadcasting to Syria.—In addition to amounts made available for grants for broadcasting in the Middle East and the International Broadcasting Operations of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, such sums as may be necessary are authorized to be appropriated for a grant to the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, Inc., for the purpose of providing United States civilian broadcasting to the people of Syria.

(b) Report.—Not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Broadcasting Board of Governors shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a detailed report on plans to establish the service described in subsection (a).

SEC. 108. Marking and branding of assistance.

(a) Requirement.—Economic assistance made available under this Act shall be marked as being “From the American People” and shall include a representation of the United States flag.

(b) Applicability.—The requirement of subsection (a) shall be applicable to all—

(1) articles; and

(2) program, project, and activity sites.

(c) Unified brand.—The marking of assistance made available under this Act shall not include any logo of a particular Federal department or agency or division thereof.

(d) Relationship to other provisions of law and regulations.—The provisions of this section shall be applicable notwithstanding any other provision of law, and notwithstanding any Federal regulation, agency guidance, or procedure to the contrary.

(e) Ongoing programs.—To the extent it is feasible and cost effective to do so, the marking or branding of articles and program, project, and activity sites financed pursuant to ongoing agreements, including grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements, to address the conflict in Syria shall be conformed to meet the requirements of this section.

(f) Exceptions.—The requirements of subsection (a) shall not apply—

(1) to a project or activity if the relevant Assistant Secretary of State or Assistant Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development determines that the marking of such project or activity would—

(A) jeopardize the health, safety, or human rights of a partner or intended beneficiary; or

(B) be detrimental to the achievement of project or activity objectives;

(2) to assistance provided inside Syria if the Secretary of State determines that the marking of such assistance would be detrimental to the achievement of overall United States foreign policy objectives in Syria;

(3) to office space occupied by a contractor or grantee, or to housing, personal vehicles, or other personal property of employees thereof; or

(4) to a project or activity for which the United States is one among many donors or has contributed a small proportion of the total costs.

(g) Exemption from determination.—A determination under subsection (f)(2) shall not preclude the Secretary of State from requiring that specific projects or activities financed by the United States be subject to the requirements of subsection (a).

(h) Co-Branding.—The requirements of subsection (c) shall not prohibit the identification of assistance with a contractor or grantee’s own organizational brand or logo, subject to any standards or regulations that the President may establish.

TITLE IISecurity Assistance

SEC. 201. Sense of Congress regarding military assistance.

It is the sense of Congress that—

(1) the President should provide appropriate military assistance, including arms, training, and intelligence support, for Syrian opposition forces that meet the requirements of section 203;

(2) a primary goal of military assistance should be to integrate the disparate units of the Free Syria Army into a coherent, effective fighting force under a unified command; and

(3) the United States should take the initiative to ensure, insofar as possible, that arms supplied to the Syrian opposition, from whatever source, are appropriately vetted and are directed only to forces that support the establishment of a democratic and peaceful Syria.

SEC. 202. Military assistance.

(a) Drawdown authority.—The President is authorized, notwithstanding any other provision of law, to direct the drawdown of defense articles from the stocks of the Department of Defense, defense services from the Department of Defense, and military education and training for an entity operating inside Syria that is not ineligible under section 203. Such assistance may include the following:

(1) Non-lethal military equipment and defense information, including—

(A) protective gear, including flak jackets and other forms of body armor;

(B) individual equipment, tents, and organizational tool sets; and

(C) communications equipment.

(2) Subject to the President making the certification required under subsection (g), lethal military equipment, including—

(A) defense articles; and

(B) defense services.

(b) Restriction.—Defense articles provided pursuant to this section may not include anti-aircraft defensive systems.

(c) Waiver.—The President may waive the restriction under subsection (b) if—

(1) it is in the vital national security interest to do so;

(2) the President notifies Congress not later than 15 days before such waiver shall be issued;

(3) the President transmits to the appropriate congressional committees a report described in subsection (h) with the certification required under subsection (g) specifically with respect to anti-aircraft systems not later than 15 days before the issuance of such a waiver; and

(4) the President certifies that the United States has consulted with regional allies regarding the systems provided.

(d) Notification requirement.—The President shall notify the appropriate congressional committees at least 15 days in advance of each obligation of assistance under this section, including a detailed description of the assistance to be provided, in accordance with the procedures applicable to reprogramming notifications under section 634A of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2394–1).

(e) Reimbursement relating to military assistance.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—Defense articles, defense services, and military education and training provided under subsection (a) shall be made available without reimbursement to the Department of Defense except to the extent that funds are appropriated pursuant to paragraph (2).

(2) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—There are authorized to be appropriated to the President for fiscal year 2013 such sums as may be necessary to reimburse the applicable appropriation, fund, or account for the value of the defense articles, defense services, or military education and training provided under subsection (a) of this section.

(f) Availability of funds.—Amounts authorized to be appropriated under this section are authorized to remain available until expended, and are in addition to amounts otherwise available for the purposes described in this section.

(g) Certification.—The President shall certify, and include in each notification submitted pursuant to subsection (a)(2) and (c)(3), that the defense articles, defense services, and military education and training to be provided under this section to an entity operating inside Syria are consistent with the maintenance of regional stability and with the overall security and stability of neighboring friends and allies.

(h) Report.—The report referred to in subsection (c)(3) is a report that contains a detailed description of the following:

(1) The intended recipients of the anti-aircraft defense systems that are at issue.

(2) The areas where such systems would be deployed.

(3) The targets against which such systems would be deployed.

(4) An assessment of how such systems would affect the military and humanitarian situation in Syria.

(5) An assessment of the risks and benefits of the intended transfer of such systems.

SEC. 203. Vetting of assistance.

(a) Ineligible entities.—Assistance under this title may not be provided to an entity that fails to demonstrate a commitment to—

(1) opposing and defeating the Assad regime;

(2) establishing a democratic, pluralistic, and peaceful Syria; and

(3) securing and safeguarding chemical and biological weapons, their precursor and constituent parts, and associated equipment.

(b) Prohibition.—No assistance may be provided under this title to an entity that has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189), or as a Specially Designated Terrorist Organization under the terms and authorities of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)

(c) Requirement.—To the maximum extent practicable, assistance under this Act shall be provided in accordance with section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2378d).

SEC. 204. Authority for program to facilitate Syrian chemical and biological weapons destruction.

(a) In general.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President may establish a program described in subsection (b) to assist the securing, disabling, dismantling, removal, and destruction of Syrian chemical and biological weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, their precursor and constituent parts, and associated equipment.

(b) Type of program.—A program established under this section shall be limited to cooperation between the United States and a Syrian entity to—

(1) secure, safeguard, disable, dismantle, transport out of Syria, or destroy chemical and biological weapons, their precursor and constituent parts and associated equipment, and

(2) establish verifiable safeguards against the proliferation of such weapons.

Any such program may involve assistance in planning and resolving technical problems associated with the purposes of the program. Any such program may also involve the funding of critical short-term requirements related to weapons destruction and should, to the extent feasible, draw upon United States technology and United States technicians.

(c) Funding.—

(1) AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.—There is authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary for fiscal year 2013, to be available until expended, for the activities of the program described in this section.

(2) DRAWDOWN AUTHORITY.—The President may direct, in order to meet the goals of the program described in this section, the drawdown of articles and services from any Federal department or agency in any fiscal year, in addition to any other drawdown authority available to the President.

(3) TRANSFER AUTHORITY.—In addition to any other transfer authority available to the President, the President may exercise the authority of this paragraph to transfer to, and merge with, funds made available to carry out this section such sums as may be necessary which have been made available to carry out any other provision of law.

(4) REPORT ON PROPOSED OBLIGATIONS.—Not less than 15 days before obligating any funds, drawing down any articles or services from a Federal department or agency, or transferring any appropriated funds from another account, for the program described in this section, the President shall transmit to Congress a report on such proposed obligation, drawdown, or transfer. Each such report shall specify—

(A) the account, budget activity, and particular program or programs from which the funds proposed to be obligated, drawndown, or transferred are to be derived, and the amount of such proposed obligation, drawdown, or transfer; and

(B) the activities and forms of assistance for which the President plans to obligate such funds.

(d) Quarterly reports on program.—Not later than 30 days after the end of each quarter during which the United States has been engaged in activities pursuant to a program established under this section, the President shall transmit to Congress a report on such activities. Each such report shall specify, for the preceding quarter and cumulatively, at a minimum a description of the following:

(1) The activities carried out.

(2) The types and amounts of assistance provided for such activities.

(3) The entities receiving such assistance.

(4) The sources of funds and authorities under which they were provided.

(5) The United States departments or agencies providing such assistance.

SEC. 205. Rule of construction.

Nothing in this Act may be construed to authorize the use of military force in Syria by the United States Armed Forces.

TITLE IIITransition Assistance

SEC. 301. Post-Assad transition assistance.

(a) In general.—The President is authorized, after making a determination described in subsection (b) and notwithstanding any other provision of law, to—

(1) provide assistance;

(2) make contributions; and

(3) use the voice, vote, and influence of the United States in international financial institutions for the purposes described in subsection (c).

(b) Determination.—The determination referred to in subsection (a) is a determination by the President, which shall be transmitted in writing to the appropriate congressional committees, that—

(1) the regime of Bashar al-Assad is no longer in power;

(2) the United States has recognized a transitional government; and

(3) such transitional government is not controlled by an organization designated as a foreign terrorist organization in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189).

(c) Purposes.—Assistance under this section may be made available for the following purposes:

(1) Developing or strengthening democratic institutions and processes.

(2) Short-term economic and political stabilization.

(3) Reconstructing or revitalizing basic infrastructure.

(4) Fostering reconciliation and the peaceful resolution of conflict.

SEC. 302. Temporary suspension of sanctions.

(a) Suspension of sanctions.—The President may suspend in furtherance of this Act the requirements of the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003 (Public Law 108–175), section 7007 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2012 (Public Law 112–74), and any other provision of law relating to assistance, trade, finance, the provision of defense articles and defense services, and the issuance of visas to nationals of Syria for a period not to exceed three months if the President transmits to the appropriate congressional committees in writing a determination that the post-Assad government of Syria is demonstrating a verifiable commitment to—

(1) ceasing support for terrorists, including Hizballah;

(2) preventing the illegal transfer of missile or nuclear technology to any other country or entity;

(3) halting all support, including training, safe haven, supplies, and financing, for—

(A) Hamas, Hizballah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Fatah al-Intifada, Fatah al-Islam, or the Jabhat al-Nusra;

(B) any other organization designated by the Secretary of State as a foreign terrorist organization in accordance with section 219(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1189(a));

(C) any person included on the Annex to Executive Order 13224 (September 23, 2001) and any other person identified under section 1 of such Executive Order whose property and interests in property are blocked by such section (commonly known as a “specially designated global terrorist”);

(D) any person designated under section 3 of Executive Order 13338 (May 13, 2004) or under section 1 of Executive Order 13438 (July 17, 2007);

(E) the Syrian Social Nationalist Party; or

(F) any agency, instrumentality, affiliate, or successor organization of the organizations specified in subparagraph (A), (B), (C), (D), or (E);

(4) dismantling Syria’s chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons programs and fully cooperating with the United States and other relevant parties to achieve such result;

(5) ceasing all efforts to design, develop, manufacture, or acquire—

(A) a nuclear explosive device or related materials and technology;

(B) chemical, biological, and radiological weapons; and

(C) ballistic missiles and ballistic missile launch technology; and

(6) taking demonstrable steps to combat the proliferation of the weapons described in paragraph (5);

(7) refraining from presenting a threat to United States national security, United States interests, or United States allies in the region;

(8) respecting the boundaries and sovereignty of all neighboring countries and rejecting interference in their internal affairs; and

(9) upholding and defending the human rights, civil liberties, and political freedoms of all its people, including minorities.

(b) Renewal.—The President may renew the suspension of sanctions under this section for up to two consecutive six-month periods if the President transmits to the appropriate congressional committees in writing a determination that the post-Assad government of Syria is making substantial progress toward satisfying the conditions in specified in subsection (a).

(c) Further renewal.—If the maximum number of suspension renewals specified in subsection (b) has been reached, the President may further renew the suspension of sanctions under this section for additional six-month periods if the President transmits to the appropriate congressional committees in writing a determination that the post-Assad government has substantially satisfied the conditions specified in paragraphs (1) through (8) of subsection (a) and is continuing to make substantial progress toward satisfying the conditions specified in paragraph (9) of such subsection.

SEC. 303. Temporary personnel authorities.

(a) Conditional authority.—If the President makes the determination described in section 301(b), the following authorities shall apply:

(1) LIMITED CAREER APPOINTMENTS.—The Secretary and the Administrator may extend for a period of time not to exceed 12 months a limited appointment under section 309(a) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 3949(a)), and may reappoint a non-career Foreign Service employee who has served five consecutive years under a limited appointment, to a subsequent limited appointment in order to facilitate the assignment of qualified employees to Syria or to posts vacated by employees assigned to Syria.

(2) REEMPLOYMENT OF ANNUITANTS.—The Secretary and the Administrator may waive the application of subsections (a) through (d) of section 824 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 4064), and may grant authority to the head of an executive agency to waive the application of such subsections, on a case-by-case basis for an annuitant reemployed on a temporary basis, if and for so long as such waiver is necessary to facilitate the assignment of qualified employees to Syria or to posts vacated by employees assigned to Syria.

(3) PERSONAL SERVICES CONTRACTORS.—

(A) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary of State and the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development may each hire a total of up to 50 United States citizens or aliens as personal services contractors, for service in the United States, or for service both in the United States and abroad, subject to the following conditions:

(i) The Secretary or the Administrator, as the case may be, determines that existing personnel resources are insufficient.

(ii) The contract length, including options, may not exceed two years, unless the Secretary or the Administrator, as the case may be, makes a finding that exceptional circumstances justify an extension of up to one additional year.

(iii) The authority provided in this paragraph may only be used to obtain specialized skills or experience relevant to, or to respond to urgent needs resulting from, the transition in Syria.

(B) AUTHORITY.—The authority provided in this paragraph shall be in addition to any other authorities available to the Secretary or the Administrator to hire personal service contractors.

(b) Status of personal services contractors.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—An individual hired as a personal services contractor pursuant to subsection (a)(3) shall not, by virtue of such hiring, be considered to be an employee of the United States Government for purposes of any law administered by the Office of Personnel Management.

(2) APPLICABLE LAWS.—An individual hired as a personal services contractor pursuant to subsection (a)(3) shall be covered, in the same manner as a similarly situated employee, by—

(A) the Ethics in Government Act of 1978;

(B) chapter 73 of title 5, United States Code;

(C) sections 201, 203, 205, 207, 208, and 209 of title 18, United States Code;

(D) section 1346 and chapter 171 of title 28, United States Code; and

(E) chapter 21 of title 41, United States Code.

(3) EXCEPTION.—This subsection shall not affect the determination as to whether an individual hired as a personal services contractor pursuant to this section is an employee of the United States Government for purposes of any Federal law not specified in paragraphs (1) and (2).

(c) General authority.—The administrative authorities provided in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 shall apply to assistance made available under this Act.

(d) Termination of authority.—The authorities provided under subsection (a) shall terminate on the date that is three years after the date on which a determination is made under section 301(a), except that a contract entered into under such subsection (a) may remain in effect until expiration.