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Rubio, Colleagues to Blinken: Wokeness is Undermining U.S. Foreign Assistance

Feb 7, 2024 | Comunicados de Prensa

The U.S. Department of State has issued a proposed rule that would expand nondiscriminatory mandates to prioritize a woke agenda and hinder the future of U.S. foreign assistance. This initiative would discriminate against faith-based organizations and traditional values groups throughout Latin America and the Caribbean as well as Africa and Asia. 

U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), and colleagues sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken challenging this effort.

  • “Conditioning foreign assistance programs on adherence to leftist priorities, like abortion and gender identity, may deprive access to U.S. foreign assistance to those most in need of these programs.”
  • “We urge you to immediately rescind this proposed rule and instead apply nondiscrimination requirements in a manner that does not undermine U.S. national security, or infringe on rights protected by the Constitution and the law.” 

Joining Rubio in his efforts were Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ted Budd (R-NC), Mike Braun (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), and Roger Marshall (R-KS). 

Flashback… In June 2023 Rubio released a report revealing the U.S. State Department’s priority in promoting Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) policies at the expense of carrying out its mission to build international relationships and protect America’s national security.

El full text of the letter

Dear Secretary Blinken: 

We write to you regarding the U.S. Department of State’s proposed rule, “Nondiscrimination in Foreign Assistance,” published January 19, 2024. The proposed rule contemplates a future in which bureaucrats at the State Department can force a socially progressive worldview on partners in strategically vital regions. 

The nondiscrimination rule would violate the rights and beliefs of faith-based partner organizations and their beneficiaries, undermine relationships with key stakeholders, and threaten U.S. security interests. For decades, the U.S. has enjoyed consequential goodwill and influence through foreign assistance programs, such as the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), that have featured robust conscience protections. This has only been possible through partnerships with faith-based organizations that hold the same social values as the communities they serve. If finalized, these rules could punish foreign assistance recipients who refuse to counsel, refer, or provide contraceptives or sterilization, based on their religious beliefs. 

Anti-American sentiment is on the rise abroad in countries who feel an unwanted ideological agenda is being forced upon them through the vehicle of U.S. foreign policy. In an era where Russia, China, and Iran are actively working to expand their influence abroad, it is imperative that American foreign policy finds reasons to unite, rather than to divide an expansive coalition of countries that share an interest in confronting this authoritarian axis. 

We are further concerned with the proposed waiver requirement for religious organizations to employ individuals of their own faith or to carry out foreign assistance activities in a manner consistent with their sincerely held beliefs. This would place a substantial burden upon faith-based groups and allow the State Department a veto on questions of whether Jewish organizations can bar pro-Hamas individuals from employment, or whether Muslim organizations are allowed to only distribute halal food assistance. Accordingly, we request responses to the following questions about the proposed regulations: 

  • Will the State Department require a waiver from Jewish organizations that refuse to employ a proHamas, or other extremist group member, who advocates for the destruction of Israel?
  • Will a Ukrainian organization be required to seek a waiver to deny employment to a Russian nationalist?
  • How does the State Department, its contractors and subcontractors, or implementing partners propose to determine a prospective employee’s religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, sex characteristics, pregnancy status, disability, genetic information, or political affiliation, among others, if such questions are prohibited to be asked during the hiring process?
  • What steps will the State Department take to ensure that it is in full compliance with the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act with respect to the promulgation and application of this rule? 

Conditioning foreign assistance programs on adherence to leftist priorities, like abortion and gender identity, may deprive access to U.S. foreign assistance to those most in need of these programs. We urge you to immediately rescind this proposed rule and instead apply nondiscrimination requirements in a manner that does not undermine U.S. national security, or infringe on rights protected by the Constitution and the law. 

We thank you in advance for your attention to this matter. 

Atentamente,