The Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act gained significant momentum yesterday as it passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act for fiscal years 2010 and 2011 (H.R. 2410). The Foreign Relations Act, introduced last month by Representative Howard Berman (D-Calif.), is a comprehensive piece of legislation to enhance the U.S. foreign policy efforts of the U.S. Department of State and the Peace Corps. It also includes new initiatives like the Simon legislation that are aimed at advancing U.S. global engagement.
The Simon Act sets the goal that in 10 years' time at least one million American college students from diverse backgrounds will study abroad annually in locations across the globe, with an emphasis on destinations in developing countries. To achieve this goal, the legislation establishes an innovative new structure that will provide financial support to students to study abroad, while at the same time requiring U.S. higher education institutions to address the on-campus factors that currently impede students' ability to study abroad.
The Foreign Relations Act also contains other important investments critical to the effectiveness of U.S. public diplomacy, foreign policy, and national security efforts, such as: doubling the size of the Peace Corps; increasing the authorization for the U.S. Department of State's educational and cultural exchange programs; and providing scholarships for students from various regions around the world to study in the U.S.
The legislation will now go to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a vote. The Senate version of the Senator Paul Simon Study Abroad Foundation Act of 2009 (S.473) was introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) earlier this year.
Publication Date: 6/12/2009