WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu applauded the House Foreign Affairs Committee for passing his City And State Diplomacy Act out of Committee. The bill will establish an Office of City and State Diplomacy at the State Department, which will help coordinate overall U.S. policy and programs in support of city and state engagement with foreign governments and officials. Congressman Lieu introduce the bill with House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Gregory Meeks and Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC).
Ahead of the Committee vote, Congressman Lieu prepared the following remarks in support of the bill:
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 trade to resource management 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.
At the same time, federal support and guidance can empower subnational diplomacy to work with competitors like China on issues such as climate change and international health security where diplomatic tensions and disagreements might otherwise hamper cooperation.
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 City and State 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. The Office will also coordinate federal policy and resources to support cities and states as they engage with their foreign counterparts.
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, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, 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 Meeks and Ranking McCaul for bringing this legislation forward to markup.
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