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house Bill H.R. 3571

Should the State Dept. Establish an Office Supporting Cities & States in Their International Diplomacy?

Argument in favor

Cities and states are playing ever-larger roles in representing U.S. interests in the international context. The move to a more decentralized model of international relations is already happening, and U.S. federal policy and foreign policy structures need to adapt according. Establishing an Office of Subnational Diplomacy would help the State Dept. evolve with the times to support cities’ and states’ diplomatic efforts and, where appropriate, to help align these efforts with U.S. national priorities and policies.

larubia's Opinion
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12/03/2020
I don’t understand why this doesn’t already exist in today’s world? We are all connected! As we move into the future, with technology & science to address the issues related to this pandemic, global warming, etc. it would be great for cities & states to be supported in their international endeavors and ensure they do not conflict with national interests/security.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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12/03/2020
Our diplomatic corps say it’s needed. The cost is low and the benefits are large. Go for it.
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TheDarkSide's Opinion
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12/03/2020
“Despite cities’ active diplomacy efforts, the current structure of the U.S. government cannot formally accommodate subnational international activity. The current U.S. government structure, like that of most other countries, makes international affairs the exclusive purview of the national government, which is expected to act as the representative for all subnational entities (i.e., states) below it. Under this framework, cities are typically considered superfluous at the international level, leaving cities dependent on national-level diplomats, negotiators, and lawmakers to resolve international issues.” Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and many of those relationships start at a local level. Communities are already bringing parts of the world home by connecting with counterparts abroad and showing that we have plenty to learn from one another. I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan bill with Rep. Wilson to support local mayors and state officials who are working diligently to strengthen our diplomatic ties with communities around the world. These connections are valuable tools for forging friendships and agreements with other countries, and our bill enables our professional diplomats at State to champion these efforts.”
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Argument opposed

Cities and states shouldn’t be allowed to engage in diplomacy; international relations should be left to the federal government, as is the structure in most nations. Rather than supporting city and state governments that go rogue and strike their own deals with foreign powers, potentially leading to national security concerns as in the case of potentially problematic dealings between China and local governments, the State Dept. should be clamping down on city and state diplomacy.

Leslie's Opinion
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12/03/2020
Where is Covid legislation? Why are legislators working on all these obscure issues & bills? Trying to look busy? It’s not working!
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Dave 's Opinion
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12/03/2020
I am voting no on this idea until we transition to a new administration. This State Department under Trump is a hollowed out shit show of what it should be and cannot do it’s work in the service of federal diplomacy let alone provide additional assistance to state and local initiatives.
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Frank-001's Opinion
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12/03/2020
Representatives, oppose this bill. Meh, It's not a bad idea, but... I wouldn't take Lieu’s words at face value. After all states had to buy PPE without the Trump administration’s help and had to bid against other states. The State Department helps negotiate the parameters of trade deals, not micromanage, say, Boston Hospital’s contract to buy sheets and pillow cases. How is State going to force, say, Pakistan, to enforce a Pakistani company making the sheets the wrong size? Even if State could help, does this need to be done from a State satellite office in Mission Hill? This is really up to the Hospital’s buyer and accounting office. What does this Bill do for America’s Big Cities? Pay rent and staff for empty-headed jokers? Likely nothing but BS bureaucracy! Give jobs to relatives? Would you want Pompeo in your business? Baby Kushner? Donald the Grifter? I wouldn't. Reminds me of any number of shows where the local cops invested in their investigations do much better without the involvement of the Feds Until the State Department fully recovers, this bill should just sit on the back burner. Cities probably would do better hiring former State Department Professional who left after Trump blew State to shit. Then there are entire departments of International Trade Law at each city's universities to draw from. Instead of little State Department offices, cities might benefit from a computerized network of resources and a good address book. You can't say mayors will appoint ham-handed idiots to negotiate for large purchases. It's not like dealing with some space aliens on Star Trek where there are detailed protocols to follow to avoid interplanetary war over serving pre-buttered bagels. We’ll need to embrace Federalism a while longer. It might be for the best; each city has a unique set of needs. #Georgia We Need Your Help! #Vote Ossoff! #Vote Warnock! ###
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What is House Bill H.R. 3571?

This bill, known as the City and State Diplomacy Act, would establish an Office of Subnational Diplomacy within the State Dept. This office would be responsible for supervising federal support for states’ and municipal governments’ engagements with foreign governments. 

Specifically, the Office of Subnational Diplomacy would be responsible for:

  • Coordinating overall U.S. policy and programs in support of subnational engagements across agencies;
  • Aligning subnational priorities with national foreign policy goals as appropriate, including by helping regional bureaus leverage city networks;
  • Maintaining a public database of all subnational engagements;
  • Providing advisory support in support of subnational engagements; and
  • Overseeing the State Dept.’s detailees’ work in state and local governments.

The Ambassador-at-Large for Subnational Diplomacy, who would be appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, would head the Office of Subnational Diplomacy.

The Office of Subnational Diplomacy would be required to provide Congress with an annual report on its activities.

Impact

Cities; states; U.S. foreign policy alignment with cities and states; and the State Dept.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 3571

$5.00 Million
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing this bill would cost $5 million over the 2020-2025 period to create the new office and satisfy the reporting requirement.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced this bill to support state and local diplomacy with counterparts abroad by coordinating overall U.S. policy and programs in this area. Upon introducing this legislation, Rep. Lieu said:

“Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and many of those relationships start at a local level. Communities are already bringing parts of the world home by connecting with counterparts abroad and showing that we have plenty to learn from one another. I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan bill with Rep. Wilson to support local mayors and state officials who are working diligently to strengthen our diplomatic ties with communities around the world. These connections are valuable tools for forging friendships and agreements with other countries, and our bill enables our professional diplomats at State to champion these efforts.”

Original Republican cosponsor Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) added:

“I’m grateful for the leadership that South Carolina has played in international engagement on the sub-national level. American cities and states are increasingly engaging in robust diplomacy with international partners and stakeholders. It’s time that the State Department formally recognize subnational diplomacy and work to strengthen productive international friendship and cooperation on the city and state level in pursuit of overall U.S. national 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 our enmities on the national level. I thank Mr. Lieu for his hard work on this legislation and his leadership on this important issue.”

In a fact sheet for this bill, Reps. Lieu and Wilson note that city and state governments are playing an increasingly significant role in international affairs, conducting subnational diplomacy with little support from the federal government. Given this state of affairs, the bill authors contend that it would serve the U.S. national interest for the federal government to support city and state governments’ engagements with foreign counterparts and aligning these engagements with national objectives where possible.

The American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) supports this legislation. Its president, Ambassador Eric Rubin, says that this legislation would create much-needed position to advance American cities’ and states’ interests with respect to international partners:

“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.”

Numerous U.S. mayors, including Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan (D), and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh (D), expressed their support for this legislation in a joint letter:

“As mayors proudly leading multicultural, innovative, and dynamic cities, we write to enthusiastically endorse the City and State Diplomacy Act (H.R. 3571/S.4426). This bill affirms the frontline role played by local governments in confronting the most pressing global challenges of our time and addresses the need for coordination with, and support from, our federal government on these critical issues… [The COVID-19] pandemic has exposed the critical need for international partnerships at all levels of government, and now is the time to ensure our State Department is resourced to support local efforts. This bipartisan legislation, which establishes an Office of Subnational Diplomacy at the State Department, would ensure coordinated and strategic subnational engagement with foreign governments… This legislation will bring our local and federal efforts into better alignment during a time when international engagement is needed most.”

In a February 2020 speech at the National Governors Association, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned of the national security implications of deals struck with Chinese officials at the local level and implored governors not to strike their own deals with China at the risk of undermining U.S. national policy:

“Don’t make separate individual deals and agreements with China that undermine our national policy. I know none of you would do so intentionally. Let us help you make sure we’re getting it right.”

Pompeo’s comments seem to indicate that the federal government should discourage city and state diplomacy, and that an Office of Subnational Diplomacy would therefore be unnecessary. However, the original cosponsor of this bill’s Senate companion, Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), contends that this risk is precisely why an Office of Subnational Diplomacy is needed:

“If we are to effectively compete with China’s efforts to expand its influence at the subnational level in the U.S., it is critical that state and local officials have a permanent, centralized resource to make informed decisions.”

This legislation unanimously passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee with the support of 16 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 10 Democrats and six Republicans. Its Senate companion, sponsored by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), has four bipartisan Senate cosponsors (including three Democrats and one Republican) and has not yet received a committee vote.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors and German Marshall Fund support this legislation. Foreign policy experts, such as former Undersecretary of State Tom Shannon, former U.S. Special Representative for Global Intergovernmental Affairs Reta Jo Lewis (who served as a special representative within the State Dept. tasked with cultivating strategic relationships between the State Dept., U.S. cities, and BRIC countries and South Africa), and others also support this legislation.


Of NoteCities and states are increasingly taking actions with cross-border implications. These include negotiating and signing trans-border agreements, forming international coalitions, and lobbying for certain policy changes at the U.N. As a result of these efforts, many cities and states maintain robust international relationships that benefit trade, investment, and soft power that can bolster the image of the U.S. abroad.

For further evidence of cities’ — and particularly large cities’ — increasing diplomacy efforts, consider the fact that Atlanta, Los Angeles, and New York City  all have a Mayor’s Office of International Affairs. Other cities, including Charlotte, North Carolina and San Antonio, Texas have expressed interest in similar efforts.

Despite cities’ active diplomacy efforts, the current structure of the U.S. government cannot formally accommodate subnational international activity. The current U.S. government structure, like that of most other countries, makes international affairs the exclusive purview of the national government, which is expected to act as the representative for all subnational entities (i.e., states) below it. Under this framework, cities are typically considered superfluous at the international level, leaving cities dependent on national-level diplomats, negotiators, and lawmakers to resolve international issues.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / DKosig)

AKA

City and State Diplomacy Act

Official Title

City and State Diplomacy Act, as amended

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
    IntroducedJune 27th, 2019
    I don’t understand why this doesn’t already exist in today’s world? We are all connected! As we move into the future, with technology & science to address the issues related to this pandemic, global warming, etc. it would be great for cities & states to be supported in their international endeavors and ensure they do not conflict with national interests/security.
    Like (22)
    Follow
    Share
    Where is Covid legislation? Why are legislators working on all these obscure issues & bills? Trying to look busy? It’s not working!
    Like (24)
    Follow
    Share
    Our diplomatic corps say it’s needed. The cost is low and the benefits are large. Go for it.
    Like (18)
    Follow
    Share
    I am voting no on this idea until we transition to a new administration. This State Department under Trump is a hollowed out shit show of what it should be and cannot do it’s work in the service of federal diplomacy let alone provide additional assistance to state and local initiatives.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    “Despite cities’ active diplomacy efforts, the current structure of the U.S. government cannot formally accommodate subnational international activity. The current U.S. government structure, like that of most other countries, makes international affairs the exclusive purview of the national government, which is expected to act as the representative for all subnational entities (i.e., states) below it. Under this framework, cities are typically considered superfluous at the international level, leaving cities dependent on national-level diplomats, negotiators, and lawmakers to resolve international issues.” Our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, and many of those relationships start at a local level. Communities are already bringing parts of the world home by connecting with counterparts abroad and showing that we have plenty to learn from one another. I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan bill with Rep. Wilson to support local mayors and state officials who are working diligently to strengthen our diplomatic ties with communities around the world. These connections are valuable tools for forging friendships and agreements with other countries, and our bill enables our professional diplomats at State to champion these efforts.”
    Like (13)
    Follow
    Share
    Representatives, oppose this bill. Meh, It's not a bad idea, but... I wouldn't take Lieu’s words at face value. After all states had to buy PPE without the Trump administration’s help and had to bid against other states. The State Department helps negotiate the parameters of trade deals, not micromanage, say, Boston Hospital’s contract to buy sheets and pillow cases. How is State going to force, say, Pakistan, to enforce a Pakistani company making the sheets the wrong size? Even if State could help, does this need to be done from a State satellite office in Mission Hill? This is really up to the Hospital’s buyer and accounting office. What does this Bill do for America’s Big Cities? Pay rent and staff for empty-headed jokers? Likely nothing but BS bureaucracy! Give jobs to relatives? Would you want Pompeo in your business? Baby Kushner? Donald the Grifter? I wouldn't. Reminds me of any number of shows where the local cops invested in their investigations do much better without the involvement of the Feds Until the State Department fully recovers, this bill should just sit on the back burner. Cities probably would do better hiring former State Department Professional who left after Trump blew State to shit. Then there are entire departments of International Trade Law at each city's universities to draw from. Instead of little State Department offices, cities might benefit from a computerized network of resources and a good address book. You can't say mayors will appoint ham-handed idiots to negotiate for large purchases. It's not like dealing with some space aliens on Star Trek where there are detailed protocols to follow to avoid interplanetary war over serving pre-buttered bagels. We’ll need to embrace Federalism a while longer. It might be for the best; each city has a unique set of needs. #Georgia We Need Your Help! #Vote Ossoff! #Vote Warnock! ###
    Like (10)
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    Wow....this is an unusual issue apparently.......People I know and highly value their opinions on this site, are split right down the middle and they all have valid points. Unfortunately, during this "Administration" the Fed. Gov. not only washed their hands on issues of great import that affected the states (i.e. dealing with the Coronavirus.....obtaining PPE, ventilators and the like....but have also hamstrung the states by confiscating PPE etc. that the states have ordered or countermanded mandates that the Gov. have issued to protect their people. If the states have reached out to foreign governments to settle certain issues on their own, it has been from necessity since we have NO cohesive Federal gov. in place at this time. Hopefully, under the Biden Administration this will change and we will have a Federal gov. that actually represents the states and the people who live in them.
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    This is the United States of America, and for sake of consistency from every perspective, there should be one focal point when it involves diplomatic interactions with other countries, which should remain at the State Department.
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    Why do Democrats believe everyone needs the federal government to hold their hand on many issues. Most diplomatic issues between states and other countries is for economic reasons with trade agreements that the feds can not or will not do. No states are not making nuclear or military agreements so they should not have to plead with the feds. As long as there is no wrong doing it should be okay.
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    Yes, as even an online small business can be involved in international business, this would help those involved. BUT on more pressing issues, please stop the sale of the Arctic National Preserves to oil companies, this is unnecessary environmental damage, it would be better to focus on alternative energy sources. Pleas address the citizenry facing eviction during covid, homelessness was already a national disgrace and will only increase if this issue is not addressed promptly. I understand it is complicated, but helping renters and owners stay in their homes will prevent property damage, health care crisis, and is just the right thing to do
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    I think it’s a good idea to have a coordinated effort between cities and the state department when dealing with foreign affairs. I remember a time in Illinois when both state and city governments were doing a lot of business with China and things kind of back fired because there wasn’t awareness of the potfuls of the business at hand. Yes for our national security it is a good idea to set up such a commission.
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    We do not need another department! The government is bloated enough. If there is a need, let the state department handle it. We need to figure out how to do more with less with the immense national debt!!
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    No, all of that should be left up to the federal government.
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    Our Evil Federal Government has ZERO credibility at home or abroad. The states would do better without “help”. Perhaps the states could form an organization, a “confederation”, to work together on such matters. Could lead to something good...
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    Our Federal Government has the sole, constitutional duty, and authority to conduct foreign policy. This is an insane idea. Fire whoever came up with this.
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    The treaty powers of the federal government need to be adhered to by the federal governments. Whether states can act independently or not has only been slightly investigated by the US supreme Court
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    Yes, as long as the State Department is not interfering in the efforts of local governments to build relationships internationally. I think that local governments can be leaders on initiatives to improve their economies, trade, and environmental concerns, and that's a good thing the State Department should honor. However, if any of these policies should violate Federal law, then the State Department can step in. I don't think we should put this in place until the awful Mike Pompeo is out of State, but in February 2021 it seems like a good move.
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    I am going back and forth on this one! I worry about adding another layer of government. Not only that, but I was not aware that cities/states could enter into agreements that could affect our National foreign policy. What, are there no guidelines or algorithms available to local governments to help them decide when to involve the State Department? Or is it that illegal deals are occurring on an international level now and this legislation will help quell that? Hmmm! 🤔
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    No absolutely No ! Only someone who doesn’t understand What “The United States Of America “ means or a Leftist New World Order Advocate would propose such a bill. This bill would only divide and weaken the United States. We are stronger United than divided that has always been true and it is true today. American cities are in a mess to day because of liberal policies that get it all wrong. This would only hasten their decline. City mayors and Governors should be focused on cleaning up their cities,addressing the needs of the People they took an oath to serve, not international foreign policy ! I suggest the Congressman do the same !
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    I support this measure
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