Ambassador-Designate Callista Gingrich Assumes Charge at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See

Posted: 1:19 am ET
Follow @Diplopundit

 

#

Advertisements

Photo of the Day: Secretary Kerry Tours the Vatican

|| >    We’re running our crowdfunding project from January 1 to February 15, 2014. If you want to keep us around, see Help Diplopundit Continue the Chase—Crowdfunding for 2014 via RocketHub  <||

 

— Domani Spero

Vatican Chief of Protocol Monsignor Jose Bettancourt gives U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a tour of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City during a visit to Rome, Italy, on January 14, 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

Vatican Chief of Protocol Monsignor Jose Bettancourt gives U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry a tour of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City during a visit to Rome, Italy, on January 14, 2014. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

* * *

Enhanced by Zemanta

FY2014 Omnibus – State and Foreign Operations Appropriations: $49 Billion

|| >    We’re running our crowdfunding project from January 1 to February 15, 2014. If you want to keep us around, see Help Diplopundit Continue the Chase—Crowdfunding for 2014 via RocketHub  <||


— Domani Spero

On January 13, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, House Appropriations Ranking Member Nita Lowey, and Senate Appropriations Ranking Member Richard Shelby announced the release of the fiscal year 2014 consolidated appropriations bill.  The bill provides $1.012 trillion for the operation of the federal government and avoids a government shutdown. The Omnibus contains all 12 regular appropriations bills for fiscal year 2014, with no area of the government functioning under a Continuing Resolution.  Below is a quick summary of the FY 2014 Omnibus – State and Foreign Operations Appropriations:

The State and Foreign Operations portion of the fiscal year 2014 Omnibus contains funding to support American interests, diplomatic operations, and humanitarian assistance abroad. In total, the legislation provides $49 billion in discretionary funding – $4.3 billion less than the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.

Within the total, the bill provides full funding for embassy security – plus additional funds for upgrades of temporary missions, such as Benghazi – to prevent and protect against future terrorist attacks, unrest, and other acts of violence.

The bill also provides funding to support security and stability in the Middle East – including for our key allies such as Israel and Jordan and the frontline states of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. For Afghanistan, the bill provides the resources needed for diplomats and development experts to operate safely, but scales back assistance programs to a more sustainable level as U.S. armed forces drawdown during 2014. In addition, contingency funding is included for other areas of conflict and emerging crises, such as Syria and Africa.

In addition, the bill prioritizes global health, humanitarian, and democracy promotion programs – while reducing funding in other lower-priority areas – to advance American interests around the globe and to fulfill the nation’s moral obligation to those in dire need.

State Department Operations and Related Agencies – The bill contains a total of $15.7 billion in base and contingency funding for operational costs of the State Department and related agencies – a decrease of $2.4 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level and $1 billion less than the request. Within this total, the legislation provides $5.4 billion – $25 million above the amount requested – for embassy security costs relating to the protection of personnel and facilities.

United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Operations – The bill contains $1.3 billion for USAID operations, a reduction of $215 million from the fiscal year 2013 enacted level. Within this total, $91 million is provided for contingency funding for USAID operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and for the USAID Inspector General to conduct appropriate and rigorous oversight of U.S. taxpayer dollars in those countries.

Funding Prohibitions – The bill seeks to promote good government and rein in unnecessary spending by prohibiting or eliminating funding for a variety of projects and activities. Some include:

    • A prohibition on funding for the renovation of UN Headquarters in New York;
    • A prohibition on appropriations for a new London embassy;
    • Providing no funding or authorities for debt relief for foreign countries;
    • A prohibition on funding to move the Vatican embassy unless certain conditions are met to maintain its importance and authority;
    • A prohibition on aid to Libya until the Secretary of State confirms Libyan cooperation in the Benghazi investigation;
    • A prohibition on funding to implement the UN Arms Trade Treaty; and
    • Providing no funding for assessed and voluntary contributions for the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Groundbreaking Ceremony, U.S. Embassy London November 2013 (Photo via US Embassy London/Flickr)

Groundbreaking Ceremony, U.S. Embassy London
November 2013
(Photo via US Embassy London/Flickr)

International Security Assistance – The bill provides a total of $8.5 billion in base and contingency funding for international security assistance. This includes funds for international narcotics control, anti-terrorism programs, nonproliferation programs, peacekeeping operations, and other critical international security and stabilization efforts. It also provides funds to support ongoing counter-narcotics and law enforcement efforts in Mexico, Colombia, and Central America.

Israel: In addition, the legislation provides security assistance to key allies, including fully funding the $3.1 billion commitment to the United States-Israel Memorandum of Understanding.

Egypt: Allows requested funds to be provided to Egypt if certain conditions are met – including maintaining the strategic relationship with the United States, upholding the peace treaty with Israel, and meeting milestones Egyptians have set for their political transition.

Palestinian Authority: The legislation stops economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority if the Palestinians obtain membership to the United Nations or UN agencies without an agreement with Israel. In addition, the bill puts new restrictions on aid if the Palestinians pursue actions against Israel at the International Criminal Court. New language is included to ensure that the Palestinian Authority is taking action to counter incitement of violence.

Afghanistan:  Withholds funds for the Government of Afghanistan until certain conditions are met, including having a signed Bilateral Security Agreement and safeguards being in place to ensure that U.S. assistance is not taxed. It also withholds a portion of funds until proper security is in place for implementers of USAID and State Department programs. In addition, the legislation strengthens requirements on the rights of Afghan women and girls and combatting corruption.

According to WaPo, the measure includes $85.2 billion for military operations in Afghanistan, a $2 billion cut from fiscal 2013 due in part to ongoing troop reductions. But the agreement also withholds money for the Afghan government “until certain conditions are met,” including a decision to sign a new bilateral security agreement (via).

The bill reportedly also authorizes a 1 percent pay increase for civilian federal workers and U.S. military personnel.

Read more on State here. See the Appropriations Committee here.  WaPo has a quick look at the winners and losers of the new spending bill. here.

* * *

Enhanced by Zemanta

US Ambassador to the Holy See Miguel H. Díaz Resigns, Rejoins University of Dayton

The resignation of Ambassador Diaz was not officially announced by the US Embassy to the Holy See until November 7 but the news actually made it out on Monday and was widely reported by Catholic news outlet since his farewell call to the Pope with his wife was listed in the Vatican’s daily press bulletin:

S.E. il Signor Miguel Humberto Díaz, Ambasciatore degli Stati Uniti d’America presso la Santa Sede, con la Consorte, in visita di congedo.

Ambassador Diaz with Pope Benedict XVI
Via US Embassy to the Holy See/FB

Via the National Catholic Register

The United States Ambassador to the Holy See made a farewell visit to Pope Benedict XVI today.

Ambassador Miguel Diaz is leaving his position after just over three years’ service representing the Obama administration.

An embassy spokesman said he would probably be leaving Rome at the weekend to take up a teaching position at the University of Dayton, OH.

The embassy said the move had been in the pipeline for a while, and that it had planned to announce the ambassador’s departure after the Presidential Elections tomorrow, but as the farewell visit took place today, the Vatican pre-empted the disclosure by making an announcement in its daily bulletin. Ambassador Diaz, who was formally sworn in on August 21st, 2009, has nevertheless fulfilled the usual term for ambassadors which is commonly two to three years.

Read in full here.

Ambassador Díaz is the first Hispanic to represent the United States at the Vatican. Born in Havana, Cuba, Díaz moved as a child to the United States, where his family worked hard to move ahead. His father worked as a waiter and his mother did data entry work, and their son was the first member of the family to attend college. Díaz earned his bachelor’s degree from Saint Thomas University in Miami Gardens, Florida, and his master’s and doctorate from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He previously taught at Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida; Saint Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach, Florida; the University of Dayton in Ohio; and at Notre Dame.  Fluent in Italian, Spanish and French, Ambassador Díaz also reads Greek, Latin and German. His academic interests also include theological anthropology and Latino/Latina theologies.  He was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador on August 21st, 2009.

Here is the announcement posted in the US Embassy’s FB page:

Ambassador Miguel H. Díaz Departs Post | November 7, 2012

VATICAN CITY — Miguel H. Díaz, United States Ambassador to the Holy See since 2009, will leave his position following the presidential elections and return to academia effective the week of November 13, 2012. Ambassador Diaz was proud to serve almost three and a half years in his position as the 9th U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. He will join his family in Dayton, Ohio, where he has been named University Professor of Faith and Culture at the University of Dayton.

“As Ambassador, I have had the pleasure of representing the people of the United States to the Holy See, and to develop our already strong cooperation,” Ambassador Diaz said. During his tenure at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, he was influential in promoting the shared values of the United States and the Holy See in peace, justice, and human rights.

Ambassador Diaz helped launch the Religion in Foreign Policy Working Group of the Secretary of State’s Strategic Dialogue with Civil Society. The Working Group facilitates regular dialogue between the U.S. foreign policy establishment and religious leaders, scholars, and practitioners worldwide on strategies to build more effective partnerships on a wide range of goals, including conflict prevention, humanitarian assistance, and national security.

“The working group is an unprecedented initiative that demonstrates the administration’s commitment to involve religious leaders in shaping U.S. foreign policy; I am proud to take an active role to ensure its success,” he said.

The Embassy will be headed by the Chargé d’Affaires, until a new Ambassador is nominated by the Administration and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

This is the second noncareer ambassador’s resignation in the last two weeks and the first one since President Obama’s historic reelection.  Ambassador Diaz is rejoining the University of Dayton where he previously taught.

Related News: