The Foreign Service Journal, October 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | OCTOBER 2020 67 AFSA NEWS Hill Advocacy During the Pandemic During the early phase of the coronavirus pandemic, AFSA’s focus was on working with Congress to repatriate Americans from around the world and obtain emergency funding for that purpose. In its supplemental fund- ing packages, which became law in March, Congress appropriated nearly $2.4 billion in additional funding for the international affairs budget. The supplemental funding helped support the evacuation of U.S. citizens, maintain consular opera- tions and protect vulnerable populations from COVID-19. AFSA cultivated biparti- san support for the Foreign Service, especially among appropriators, which helped more than 100,000 Ameri- cans return home safely. With in-person events canceled, AFSA wanted to make sure that Foreign Service Day was still recog- nized this year, and that the work of diplomats during the pandemic was honored. The Senate Foreign Service Caucus co-chairs, Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), introduced and oversaw passage of the annual Foreign Service Day resolution in May. This resolution is an important show of Senate support and highlights the vital work diplomats have done during the pandemic. Since March, AFSA has regularly provided updates to Congress on safety con- cerns from our diplomats, as many of them returned home to the United States. The State Department’s Pearson Fellows have been instrumental in helping AFSA communicate these con- cerns from our membership to lead on the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Foreign Relations committees. Our advocacy has included proposals to resolve road- blocks presented by the pandemic: We insisted on the need to continue onboarding Foreign Service A-100 and specialist classes and pro- posed it be done virtually; and we emphasized the urgency of confirming FS members on promotion lists. As spring turned into sum- mer, Congress was interested in lessons learned from the pandemic and the top con- cerns of the Foreign Service on returning to work in D.C. or to posts abroad. We worked with existing congressional caucuses of Foreign Service supporters— including two of the co-chairs of the House Diplomacy Caucus, Representatives Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)—to provide them insights on the toughest aspects of life as a diplomat during the pandemic. We hope to build on these efforts and grow support for AFSA initiatives such as Foreign Service parity with the military. Advocacy on long-term issues such as diversity in the Foreign Service has also come to the fore. Representatives Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) and Karen Bass (D-Calif.), both subcommittee chairs on the House Foreign Affairs Com- mittee, have sought AFSA’s ideas and input on diversity. AFSA has welcomed the opportunity to share our members’ feedback with the Hill, as more bills to increase recruitment and retention of minorities in the Foreign Ser- vice have been introduced. AFSA was heard and sup- ported as the House passed its Fiscal Year 2021 appro- priations bills near the end of the summer, which included a $1.2-billion, or 2 percent, increase to the base inter- national affairs budget and an additional $10 billion for coronavirus relief. AFSA hopes Congress will consider these positive outcomes stemming from our advocacy efforts during the pandemic when it finalizes a FY21 spending package, in future coronavirus relief pack- ages, and as lawmakers look to set priorities for the 117th Congress. n AFSA has welcomed the opportunity to share our members’ feedback with the Hill, as more bills to increase recruitment and retention of minorities in the Foreign Service have been introduced. AFSA ON THE HILL | BY KIM GREENPLATE Tuesday, November 3, 2020 is the next federal Election Day. Visit AFSA’s website at tration-guide for a voter registration guide that makes it easier for you and your family to register to vote. The guide includes voter registration deadlines for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories, as well as information on requesting absentee ballots. If you would like to check on your registration status, visit or n