The Foreign Service Journal, November 2013

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | NOVEMBER 2013 53 AFSA NEWS Since the new Governing Board took office in July, AFSA has made a commit- ment to enhance its presence on Capitol Hill. As stated by President Bob Silverman in his October President’s Views column, AFSA’s board and staff are energized and eager to engage Congress on the issues and realities Foreign Service employees and their families care about. CONGRESS I ONAL OUTREACH AFSA has positioned itself as the go-to resource when it comes to matters affecting the foreign affairs agencies. By further strengthening our ties to our congressional friends and supporters from both sides of the aisle—such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Rep. Chris Van Hol- len, D-Md., and Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., to name a few—we continue to build on the legacy and leadership of previous boards. We have expanded our monitoring efforts from four congressional committees (authorizers and appropria- tors) to 12, and increased our congressional staff database to more than 200 members, all of whom have a vested interest in foreign affairs, government oversight and federal workforce issues. With the start of the 113th Congress, AFSA is focus- ing its energies on inform- ing the more than 80 new members and their staffs of the critical role Foreign Service employees play in protecting national security and promoting economic development while serving abroad, while we continue to strengthen our relationships with such congressional leaders as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair- man Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Senate Committee on Appro- priations Chairman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., House Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and House Committee on Appropriations Ranking Member Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., among numerous others. We persist in concentrat- ing our lobbying efforts on personnel security, the inter- national affairs budget and employee rights, along with other issues affecting the five foreign affairs agencies we represent. AFSA representatives recently met with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., Senate Foreign Rela- tions Committee Ranking Member Bob Corker, R-Tenn., Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Eliot Engel, D-N.Y, to ensure that lawmakers understand the unique needs of Foreign Ser- vice officers and their family members. Our refrain is, “people are more important than programs.” THE SHUTDOWN Before the federal govern- ment shutdown, AFSA was one of the first labor unions to organize a rally under the slogan, “Don’t Shut Down Diplomacy.” AFSA President Bob Silverman addressed the threat during face-to-face meetings with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. (who has the distinction of having three generations of family members serve in the Foreign Service), and Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va. AFSA also worked with the Federal Postal Coalition (rep- resenting five million federal employees and their fami- lies), to send out a joint letter to members of the House of Representatives urging their support for the Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act (H.R.#3223). On Oct. 5, House members voted 407-0 in support of the legislation. STATES I SSUES AFSA continues to expand its outreach at the state level, actively seeking opportuni- ties to develop strategic partnerships with local elected officials. For decades, FSOs and their families have been burdened with such complicated issues as state residency, taxes and driver’s licenses, to name a few. BRAND AWARENESS AFSA’s advocacy depart- ment is increasing awareness of AFSA and the Foreign Service by highlighting some of our key programs, including scholarships and the National High School Essay Contest (see page 49). Recently, Anandan Amirthanayagam, the winner of the Sheldon Whitehouse Memorial Financial Aid Scholarship, met with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I. (Ambassador Charles S. Whitehouse’s grandson), in his district office. Similarly, Kailee Marie Pedersen, the winner of this year’s High School Essay Contest, met with Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb. These are just two recent examples of AFSA’s commitment to inspire a new generation of American diplomats. Overall, AFSA is moving in the right direction by devel- oping innovative advocacy and legislative strategies at the federal and state levels that address the immediate needs of our members. At AFSA, nonstop advocacy is not just a slogan. Please contact me at n AFSA ON THE H I L L Non-Stop Advocacy—Not Just a Slogan BY JAVIER S. CUEBAS, DIRECTOR OF ADVOCACY