Senate committee announces passage of Personnel Protection Act of 2013

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced the passage on Friday of a new bill that will prevent future attacks on U.S. diplomatic posts.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the committee's chairman, and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the ranking member of the committee, introduced the Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty Embassy Security, Threat Mitigation, and Personnel Protection Act of 2013. The committee said the bill represented an important step in improving the safety of diplomats.

"Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has taken a meaningful step in improving the security of our embassies in foreign countries, the safety of our diplomats, and the promotion of U.S. national security interests," Menendez said. "We must recognize that many of our diplomats and personnel work in dangerous environments abroad, which makes it the responsibility of Congress to do all within its power to protect them. This is a time for solutions, and this bipartisan bill is a sign of our unequivocal and unwavering commitment to fully protect our embassies and those who serve this nation abroad."

The bill would authorize funding for important items identified by the Account Review Board on Benghazi, such as improved and integrated foreign affairs security training, language training and embassy security and construction. The legislation provides contract authority to the State Department to let it award contracts on a best value basis as opposed to the lowest bidder. The revised contract authority would help to ensure contract personnel are trained adequately to provide security at foreign posts.

The proposed bill would also require detailed reports from the State Department on progress toward implementing all review board recommendations and would require identification and reports on security at high-threat, high-risk posts.