WASHINGTON – This week, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) championed his bipartisan bill, the City and State Diplomacy Act, during a House Foreign Affairs Committee markup. The bill, which subsequently passed out of committee, is co-led with Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and focuses on providing federal support for state and local diplomacy efforts. The bill will establish an Office of Subnational Diplomacy at the State Department, which will coordinate overall U.S. policy and programs in support of city and state engagement with foreign governments and officials. Watch the congressman’s remarks here.
Mr. Lieu’s remarks as prepared:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Across the country, our cities and states are laboratories of democracy. They are places where innovative policies are developed on everything from resource management to trade to public safety.
But our cities and states are also instruments of U.S. diplomacy. For years, mayors and governors have been engaging with their foreign counterparts around the globe to share best practices and strike agreements on a range of issues.
The growth of subnational cooperation has enabled cities and states to play an increasingly significant role in foreign policy and complement the efforts of the State Department. These engagements support U.S. trade and investment, facilitate cooperation on energy and the environment, increase the health and safety our citizens, and promote people-to-people exchanges.
Today, global networks made up exclusively of local government officials are at the forefront of harnessing the power of cities to advance international cooperation, including the Global Parliament of Mayors, Urban20 and more.
It is in the interest of the United States to promote these subnational engagements, align them with national objectives to the extent possible, and leverage federal resources to enhance their impact.
For too long, however, our cities and states have been conducting this subnational diplomacy with little-to-no support from the federal government. That is a missed opportunity by both sides.
My legislation being considered today, the City and State Diplomacy Act, seeks to address this major gap.
This legislation will do two things to bolster city and state diplomacy.
First, it will establish a new Office of Subnational Diplomacy at the State Department that will coordinate all federal resources needed to support our mayors and governors on the world stage. This Office will be headed by a senior official of an appropriate rank to represent the U.S. at international fora and develop the agreements necessary to facilitate more subnational engagement.
Second, the legislation authorizes State Department detailees to city halls and state capitols across the country to advise and assist our mayors and governors and help them achieve their specific international objectives.
I am proud that this legislation has broad support not only from my colleagues across the aisle, but from across the country as well. This legislation will benefit every American city and state with international interests.
I am also proud that this legislation has garnered the support of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the American Foreign Service Association, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and a number of former senior State Department officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Finally, I would like to extend my deep thanks to Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina for partnering with me on this legislation, as well as to Chairman Engel and Ranking McCaul for bringing this legislation forward to markup.
I yield back.
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