Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate voted to reauthorize the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Yesterday, the U.S. House followed suit, approving the measure by a voice vote, and sending it to the President for his signature.
The USCIRF is a congressionally mandated bipartisan commission that reports to the Congress, the President and the State Department on issues of religious freedom around the world. Like much of the government, the commission was scheduled to run out of operational funds on September 30. A continuing resolution signed by the President last week, however, authorized the program until December 11 while Congress debates a budget.
The bill is close to a clean reauthorization and does not include the reforms [Florida Senator Marco] Rubio sought in his bill. It also does not include the reforms Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wanted, elements of which the international religious freedom community said would act as “poison pills” to the commission.
Instead, the legislation gives the commission 60 days to craft a strategic plan and conduct an organizational review. A unanimous commission vote (or a majority of both party appointees) would enact any proposed changes – such as designating ISIS, Boko Haram, and other non-state actors as “countries of particular concern.”
Durbin said he is proud of the compromise that will help “foster bipartisan consensus” and discourage partisanship on the commission.
You can read the text of the bill here.