In-Depth: Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to empower the State Dept.’s energy security and diplomacy efforts by replacing the Coordinator for International Energy Affairs with a Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources:
"Energy security has transformed into a matter of national security. The consequences of Russia being able to use its energy resources to manipulate our EU and NATO allies would be catastrophic in the event of a conflict. As the world’s top producer of petroleum and natural gas, we are in a unique position to aid our allies and its critical that our State Department has the resources and mandate required to tackle these challenges.”
Original cosponsor Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) adds:
"Energy security is a key component of our foreign policy agenda. With our country’s wealth of resources and expertise, the State Department must play an increasingly important role in global energy security and development. I am proud to join fellow Texans, Ranking Member Michael McCaul and Congressman Ron Wright, to introduce the Energy Diplomacy Act and enhance the State Department’s capacity to promote energy security, development, and distribution across the world.”
Last Congress, Reps. Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced this bill to require the Secretary of State to ensure the State Dept. has sufficient staff dedicated to energy matters to protect and advance U.S. energy security interests abroad:
“Advancing America’s energy security is a critical aspect of U.S. foreign policy. Congress must ensure the State Department is properly staffed and authorized to execute strong policies to protect and promote our energy policies abroad. Under the direction of a new assistant secretary position, the State Department will have the leadership and personnel in place to execute a bold foreign policy that advances our nation’s international energy interests.”
When he joined Rep. Wright in reintroducing this bill in the current Congress, Rep. McCaul noted that the U.S.' energy security and diplomacy priorities are currently being threatened by "energy-rich adversaries such as Russia, Venezuela and Iran" consistently exploiting energy vulnerabilities.
In August 2017, the State Department requested that Congress repeal the decade-old statute establishing the Coordinator for International Affairs since the Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources already fulfills the responsibilities of the Coordinator. This duplication is unnecessary and has created confusion about the role of the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR), which leads the State Department's efforts to forge international energy policy, strengthen U.S. and global energy security, and respond to energy challenges from around the world that affect U.S. economic policy and national security.
This bill has three bipartisan cosponsors, including two Republicans and one Democrat, in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced this bill with one Democratic cosponsor, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), and it passed the House by a voice vote but didn't receive a Senate vote.
Summary by Countable Staff(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / gong hangxu)