Washington D.C., Nov 22, 2019 / 16:02 pm
With the current authorization for the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) expiring this year, proposed changes to the independent panel have sparked controversy.
USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan U.S. government commission established in 1998 under the International Religious Freedom Act. It works to monitor the state of religious freedom abroad and make recommendations to Congress, the president and the Secretary of State about policies to advance religious freedom.
USCRIF must be periodically reauthorized by Congress. Its current authorization expires this year.
A bill to reauthorize the commission for four years, with an additional $1 million for the group’s annual budget, was introduced in September. It proposed a single three-year term limit for commissioners, as well as requirements for the group to report regularly to Congress, a change that is described as working toward transparency and accountability.
However, the bill has been met with pushback from current commissioners, who say it would compromise their mission.
Last week, commissioner Kristina Arriaga announced her resignation. Arriaga had served since 2016 and was set to be on the commission until May 2020.
Arriaga told The Christian Post the proposed legislation “would gut USCIRF by changing its mission and burdening commissioners with the very kind of innovation-killing bureaucracy they were designed to fight.”
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, she voiced concern over what she saw as Congressional moves that would impede the group’s ability to function.