We are happy to report that earlier this week the Senate voted to reauthorize the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USICRF). Yesterday, the House of Representatives approved the measure with a voice vote. Senate Bill 2078, which has broad bi-partisan support, now awaits the President’s signature.
The current authorization for USCIRF was set to expire on September 30th, but a continuing resolution signed by the President last week, extended the program until December 11th while Congress debates a budget.
USCIRF was created in 1998 by an act of Congress, it raises and addresses the cases of individuals around the world who face discrimination, harassment, and severe persecution for their faith. The Commission publishes an Annual Report which makes policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress.
The Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep Ed Royce (R-CA) commented on the legislation’s passage: “Tragically, religious believers are under siege around the world: from Christian minorities in the Middle East, to the Baha’i in Iran, to the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe. But today, we are taking steps to ensure that freedom of religion – under constant threat from extremists and authoritarian governments – remains front and center in U.S. foreign policy. This legislation allows the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom to continue its non-partisan mission of promoting religious liberty around the world.”
Kristin Wright, Open Doors Director of Advocacy commented, “We appreciate the efforts of our Open Doors supporters who advocated with their Senators and Congressmen on this issue. We are pleased that this reauthorization will extend the Commission for four more years. We urge the President to move swiftly to sign S.2078 into law.”