Hagerty, Cardin Applaud Passage of Legislation to Reform and Modernize State Department

December 15, 2022

Bipartisan legislation is the first of its kind to pass in over 40 years

NASHVILLE, TN—United States Senators Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) today applauded passage of their bipartisan legislation, the Commission on Reform and Modernization of the Department of State Act, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023. The Hagerty-Cardin measure will establish a Legislative Branch commission to examine all aspects of American diplomacy and offer legislative recommendations to reform and modernize the State Department. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tim Kaine (D-VA), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).

“When I served as U.S. Ambassador to Japan, I saw firsthand how the challenges facing the United States abroad are profoundly evolving and growing in the 21st century, and yet the State Department’s overall structure, diplomatic corps, and functions have gone largely unchanged for decades,” said Senator Hagerty. “If we do not periodically subject U.S. diplomacy to a bottom-up review, we risk jeopardizing our national security and emboldening our adversaries. I’m pleased to work with Senators Cardin, Cruz, Kaine, and Shaheen to create this commission to assess U.S. diplomatic capabilities and establish meaningful, substantive targets for reforming and modernizing the State Department to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

“Our national security demands that as we continue to recruit and retain the best and brightest to represent America around the world, we must invest in our diplomats and civilian foreign policy workforce throughout their careers and constantly add value to their experiences,” said Senator Cardin. “At this critical time in our history, Senator Hagerty and I appreciate the broad support for our comprehensive approach that will move the State Department beyond current practices and move toward a more robust professional training for these public servants charged with representing the United States around the globe.”

The Hagerty-Cardin legislation will create in Congress a Commission on Reform and Modernization of the Department of State, which will conduct a comprehensive review of the State Department’s operations, personnel, infrastructure, and other relevant elements that affect American diplomacy and provide legislative proposals to reform and modernize the State Department.

Over four decades have passed since Congress last passed significant legislation related to the operations and functions of the State Department. This Commission will seek to assess the current state of American diplomacy, including its strengths and weaknesses, and build bipartisan support to renew the State Department that can address the range of challenges facing the Nation in the 21st century.