Wednesday, October 05, 2011

USCIRF Reauthorization Bill Still Pending [CORRECTED]

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom was scheduled to go out of business last week.  22 USC Sec. 6436 originally provided that USCIRF "shall terminate on September 30, 2011." A reauthorization bill, HR 2867, passed the House on Sept. 15 and is now pending in the Senate. The reauthorization bill would reduce the number of Commission members from 9 to 5. However USCIRF was saved by provisions in two separate Continuing Appropriations Acts (HR2017 and HR2608). Both extended the life of USCIRF. HR 2017, signed by the President on Sept. 30, extended the Commission's life to Oct. 4.  HR2608, signed by the President on Oct. 5 extended USCIRF to Nov. 18. So USCIRF remains in business for now. An opinion piece in yesterday's Huffington Post by Suhag Shukla, Managing Director of the Hindu American Foundation, suggests that greater reform of USCIRF is needed.  She argues that the Commission's history causes it to focus disproportionately on persecution of Christian minorities. [Thanks to Don Byrd for the lead.]