The House of Representatives voted to include in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act an amendment, crafted by Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep Ed Royce (R-CA), to establish a Global Engagement Center and reform the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG).
The amendment “Establishes a Global Engagement Center to lead and coordinate efforts to tracks foreign propaganda and disinformation efforts intended to undermine U.S. national security interests, and to develop strategies for countering such campaigns. It would also create a fund that could be used to support outside groups in analyzing, reporting on, and refuting foreign disinformation efforts, and implements reforms to the Broadcasting Board of Governors.”
Major items in the amendment:
1. Codifies the CEO position;
2. Devolves all of the Board’s authorities to the CEO;
3. Eliminates the Board (existing Board members can complete their current terms);
4. Authorizes the CEO to make grants to RFE/RL, MBN, and RFA contingent upon their consolidating into a single organization;
5. Makes it clear that RFE/RL, MBN, and RFA (or their consolidated organization) report to the CEO;
6. Authorizes the CEO to change the name of the BBG pursuant to Congressional notification; and
7. Authorizes the CEO to establish a non-profit organization to carry out the mission of the Voice of America and includes a Sense of the Congress that the VOA mission should remain unchanged from that articulated in H.R.2323.
The amendment as passed will go to the Senate which can either accept it, or give their own version which would necessitate the House and the Senate going into conference where its points can still be argued.
The amendment does not specify what establishing “a non-profit organization to carry out the mission of the Voice of America” would mean for current VOA journalists and other staffers who are federal government employees.
Chairman Royce, who has been a longtime critic of the BBG and author of earlier legislative proposals to reform the $778 million (FY 2017 Budget Request) agency which former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had called “practically defunct,” has issued a statement praising the passage of the BBG reform amendment by the House of Representatives.
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS PRESS RELEASE
Media Contact 202-225-5021
MAY 19, 2016
Washington, D.C. – Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) issued the following statement after the House voted to include in the FY2017 National Defense Authorization Act an amendment, crafted by Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Chairman Royce, to establish a Global Engagement Center and reform the Broadcasting Board of Governors:
“One of the big reasons Russia and ISIS have been winning the information war is that our international broadcasting has been crippled by bureaucracy. Real, meaningful reform to the systemically broken Broadcasting Board of Governors and its unwieldy management structure has long been a priority of mine. This amendment to replace the part-time board with an empowered and permanent CEO is an important step forward.
“Obviously, our work is far from done. U.S. broadcasters helped take down the Iron Curtain by countering propaganda with accurate news and information in real time. They can win today’s fight – over the airwaves and on the internet – but they must have a clear mission and necessary support.”
NOTE: For more on Chairman Royce’s long push for reforms to U.S. international broadcasting, click HERE.