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WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County), House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks and Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC) reintroduced the “City and State Diplomacy Act,” which will support state and local diplomacy with counterparts abroad. The bill will establish an Office of City and State 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.

Upon introduction, Rep. Lieu said:

“The federal government should be doing everything it can to support and encourage local efforts to engage in diplomatic relationships abroad. Subnational diplomacy is an asset for American foreign policy because it enables us to share different facets of American life with our allies around the world. Through this bill, we can leverage the State Department’s expertise and federal resources to support city and state leaders interested in engaging with foreign counterparts. City and state leaders look abroad for resources, knowledge-sharing and economic support, and the State Department can empower these leaders to work strategically and in coordination with U.S. foreign policy goals. I’m pleased to partner with Rep. Wilson and Chairman Meeks on this bill and I look forward to seeing it move through the legislative process.”

 Upon introduction, Chairman Meeks said:

“As the Member representing New York’s 5th Congressional district – one of the nation’s most diverse districts and home to JFK airport, America’s hub to the world – I have seen firsthand the value of international engagement on the subnational level. The world has grown smaller and more interconnected than ever before. By improving engagement between our cities and foreign nations, and coordination with the State Department on such engagement, we can bolster our cultural and economic ties and cooperation, share best practices, and broaden our nation’s diplomatic reach.  I commend my colleague Rep. Lieu for sponsoring this innovative legislation.”

Upon introduction, Rep. Wilson said:

“I’m grateful for South Carolina’s leadership in international engagement. American cities and states are increasingly engaging in robust diplomacy with international partners and stakeholders. It’s time that the State Department formally recognizes subnational diplomacy and works to strengthen productive international friendship and cooperation on the city and state level in pursuit of mutual interests. This will not only strengthen the positive and productive relationships our cities and states develop but also serve to reinforce our friendships and potentially temper enmities. I am thankful to join Congressman Ted Lieu for his hard work on this legislation and his leadership on this important issue.”

Support for the City and State Diplomacy Act:

Eric Garcetti, Mayor of Los Angeles: “Cities lead as steady sources of possibility and promise — and we know we are stronger when we are engaged with the world and never walled off from it. From climate change to refugee resettlement, cities are at the forefront in confronting our greatest challenges. A U.S. State Department that supports international engagement taking place at all levels of government will make our cities — and country — even stronger.”  

Ambassador Tom Shannon (ret.), former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs (2016-2018): “The next frontier of American diplomacy is subnational dialogue between our cities and states and their global counterparts.  Our great cities and states have become important drivers of political and economic change, unleashing the dynamism and innovative qualities of American society to fight crime, deliver health care, improve education, and create jobs and prosperity.  Sharing our best practices, and hearing from others, will be an important part of how we engage with the world.  It is time for the State Department, with the help of our Congress, to institutionalize this reality and begin to build the outreach needed to keep us at the forefront of twenty-first century diplomacy and global problem solving.  I offer my congratulations to Representatives Lieu and Wilson for their farsighted legislation that will enhance American influence in the world and bring immediate benefits to the American people.” 

Ambassador Ivo H. Daalder (ret.), president of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and former U.S. Ambassador to NATO (2009-2013): “Cities and states are playing increasingly important roles in addressing the many global challenges that our nations and others must confront—from climate change and cybersecurity to terrorism and pandemics, cities and states are necessary partners in any effective, national response. The “City and State Diplomacy Act” recognizes this new reality and proposes ways in which the Department and State can strengthen and formalize its connection to US cities and states in order to advance America’s diplomatic interests and engagement. It represents a welcome and necessary step in an important new effort not only to understand but also to advance the critical role of subnational diplomacy.”

Reta Jo Lewis, former U.S. Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs (2010-2013), the first office dedicated to supporting subnational diplomacy: “It is important to elevate and institutionalize the subnational diplomacy effort within the U.S Department of State as a foreign policy tool not only to modernize American statecraft, but to maximize latent subnational potential for economic competitiveness and security.  Given the political and diplomatic environment we are currently operating in, it is essential to broaden formal channels for U.S. subnational leaders, including governors, mayors, legislators, and city and county officials, who are seeking new global economic opportunities and support for strengthening and deepening their peer-to-peer relationships and ties with their counterparts abroad. It is imperative that our federal government support U.S. municipal leaders to encourage greater collaboration with their counterparts abroad. I facilitated and saw firsthand how direct federal guidance for state and local officials their international engagements yields robust economic and other benefits for our locales that otherwise would not have been achieved.”

Ian Klaus, former Senior Adviser for Global Cities at the U.S. State Department: To advance U.S. interests in the world – and indeed to achieve the goals we share with the international community – it is now absolutely necessary to work in and with cities. A State Department enabled by the City and State Diplomacy Act to build strong local relationships in a rapidly urbanizing world will be able to deliver results for Americans on climate change, economic opportunity, security, and whole range of policy issues.

Ambassador Eric Rubin, President of AFSA: “The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA), the voice of the Foreign Service, welcomes the City and State Diplomacy Act encouraging diplomacy between sub-national entities and their counterparts overseas. At a time when the Foreign Service needs more positions available to advance American interests, city and state diplomacy efforts provide opportunities to enhance professional development for our members, bolster positive international relationships, and give sub-national entities a greater foreign policy voice in an interconnected world. AFSA thanks Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) for championing this bipartisan initiative.” 

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