Text: S.2711 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (07/30/2014)


113th CONGRESS
2d Session
S. 2711


To reauthorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and for other purposes.


IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

July 30, 2014

Mr. Durbin introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations


A BILL

To reauthorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, 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 “United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2014”.

SEC. 2. Establishment and composition.

(a) Leadership.—Subsection (d) of section 201 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6431(d)) is amended to read as follows:

“(d) Election of chair.—At the first meeting of the Commission after May 30 of each year, a majority of the Members of the Commission present and voting shall elect the Chair and Vice Chair of the Commission, subject to the following requirements:

“(1) INITIAL ELECTIONS.—At the first meeting of the Commission after May 30, 2015, the Members of the Commission shall elect as Chair a Commissioner appointed by an elected official of the political party that is not the political party of the President, and as Vice Chair a Commissioner appointed by an elected official of the political party of the President.

“(2) FUTURE ELECTIONS.—At the first meeting of the Commission after May 30, 2016, the Members of the Commission shall elect as Chair a Commissioner appointed by an elected official of the political party of the President, and as Vice Chair a Commissioner appointed by an elected official of the political party that is not the political party of the President. Thereafter, positions of Chair and Vice Chair shall continue to rotate on an annual basis between Commissioners appointed by elected officials of each political party.

“(3) TERM LIMITS.—No Member of the Commission is eligible to be elected as Chair of the Commission for a second term, and no Member of the Commission is eligible to be elected as Vice Chair of the Commission for a second term.”.

(b) Attendance at meetings of ambassador at large for international religious freedom.—Subsection (f) of such section (22 U.S.C. 6431(f)) is amended by adding at the end the following: “The Ambassador at Large shall be given advance notice of all Commission meetings and may attend all Commission meetings as a non-voting Member of the Commission.”.

(c) Appointments in cases of vacancies.—Subsection (g) of such section (22 U.S.C. 6431(g)) is amended by striking the second sentence.

SEC. 3. Powers of the commission.

Section 203(e) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6432a) is amended to read as follows:

“(e) Views of the commission.—The Members of the Commission may speak in their capacity as private citizens. Statements on behalf of the Commission shall be issued in writing over the names of the Members. Members of the Commission shall make every effort to reach consensus on all statements on behalf of the Commission, including testimony, press releases, and articles by Commissioners or Commission staff. When a statement supported by all Commissioners is not possible, the Commission shall issue a statement only if such statement is approved by an affirmative vote of at least six of the nine Members of the Commission and each Member of the Commission may include the individual or dissenting views of the Member. The Commission shall in its written statements clearly describe its statutory authority, distinguishing that authority from that of appointed or elected officials of the United States Government. Oral statements, where practicable, shall include a similar description.”.

SEC. 4. Commission personnel matters.

(a) Staff directors.—Section 204 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6432b) is amended by striking subsections (a), (b), and (c) and inserting the following new subsections:

“(a) Committee functions.—Subject to subsection (c), the Commission may appoint and fix the pay of such staff personnel as it deems desirable. All decisions pertaining to the hiring, firing, and fixing of pay of personnel of the Commission shall be by an affirmative vote of at least six of the nine Members of the Commission, except that—

“(1) Members of the Commission appointed by an elected official of the political party of the President, by a majority vote thereof, shall be entitled to appoint, terminate, and fix the pay of a Majority Staff Director and shall have the authority to appoint, terminate, and fix the pay of three professional staff members who shall be responsible to the Members of the Commission of the political party of the President; and

“(2) Members of the Commission appointed by an elected official of the political party that is not the political party of the President, by a majority vote thereof, shall be entitled to appoint, terminate, and fix the pay of a Minority Staff Director and shall have the authority to appoint, terminate, and fix the pay of three professional staff members who shall be responsible to the Members of the Commission of the political party that is not the political party of the President.

“(b) Staff appointments and compensation.—All staff appointments shall be made without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5 relating to classification of positions and General Schedule pay rates, except that the rate of pay for the Majority Staff Director, Minority Staff Director, and other personnel may not exceed the rate payable for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of such title.

“(c) Qualifications of professional staff.—The Commission shall ensure that the professional staff of the Commission consists of persons with expertise in areas relevant to the issue of international religious freedom, including foreign affairs, direct experience abroad, human rights, and international law.”.

(b) Conforming amendments.—Subsection (e) of such section (22 U.S.C. 6432b(e)) is amended by striking “The Executive Director” both places it appears and inserting “The Majority Staff Director and the Minority Staff Director”.

SEC. 5. Report of commission.

(a) Report publication date.—Section 205(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6433(a)) is amended by striking “Not later than May 1 of each year” and inserting “Each year, not earlier than 30 days after, and not later than 90 days after, the publication of the Department of State's Annual Report on International Religious Freedom”.

(b) Consensus on reports.—Section 205(c) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6433(c)) is amended to read as follows:

“(c) Individual or dissenting views.—Members of the Commission shall make every effort to reach consensus on the report. When a report supported by all Commissioners is not possible, the report shall be approved by an affirmative vote of at least six of the nine Members of the Commission and each Member of the Commission may include the individual or dissenting views of the Member.”.

SEC. 6. Authorization of appropriations.

Section 207(a) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6435(a)) is amended by striking “2014” and inserting “2016”.

SEC. 7. Termination.

Section 209 of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6436) is amended by striking “September 30, 2014” and inserting “September 30, 2016”.