December 2009

Policy Monitor Weekly Digest, December 14-18, 2009

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Speaking at the ribbon cutting ceremony yesterday at State Department Annex 5 (the new home of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, across the street from the main State Department building), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described public diplomacy—and within it, international exchange—as “absolutely one of my highest priorities”:

“[We must] do a better job of integrating policymaking and public diplomacy. I think telling America’s story is something that we need to do every single day.

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On Monday the Department of State published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to increase nonimmigrant visa application processing fees. The Department notes that ongoing process and security enhancements have increased actual processing costs beyond the current $131 fee set on January 1, 2008. Under the proposed rule, applicants for all visas that are not petition-based, including all student and exchange visitor visas, would pay a fee of $140.

Read more about this proposed rule change on the Department’s website, and read the Federal Register notice here.

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The full conference agreement for the Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for FY 2010 is now available for download on the House Appropriations Committee website. The below chart details the allocations of the exchanges budget for FY 2010 (with FY 08 and 09 comparisons). Also download the chart in Excel format.

Speaking at Vilnius University in Vilnius, Lithuania, last Friday, Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale highlighted exchange as an integral component in the United States’ move, in its interactions with the world, “from a paradigm of diplomacy as government-to-government interactions, to one of government-to-people and people-to-people”:

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At a December 11 State Department briefing on diplomacy in the Western Hemisphere, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the “new architecture of cooperation” the United States is working to build with its “partners” in the Western Hemisphere:

“We have, more than ever in today’s world, the chance to cooperate, collaborate, and innovate. It’s why the United States is committed to building what I’ve called a new architecture of cooperation, one where we leverage all the tools at our disposal, our diplomacy, our development efforts, civil society, the private sector, through crosscutting partnerships that are really necessary if we’re going to address and hopefully solve the complex problems we confront.”

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Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith McHale was in Russia last week participating in a “cultural exchange mission to advance the vision of U.S. and Russian Presidents Obama and Medvedev to create cultural exchange between the people of Russia and the United States,” writes Laurie Norton Moffatt, Director and CEO of the Norman Rockwell Museum.

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The $446.8 billion FY 2010 omnibus spending package (HR 3288) was passed by the House last Thursday and the Senate on Sunday, clearing the way for it to receive President Obama’s signature. The omnibus contains six of the seven remaining FY 2010 spending bills, including the State and Foreign Operations bill, which will fund Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs at $635 million in FY 2010, as reported last week by the Alliance.

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A recent focus on the proliferation of Americans studying in China—reinforced by President Obama’s announcement last month that the United States will send 100,000 students to China—has drawn attention away from a trend that has been accelerating for some time, USA Today reports: a rapidly growing number of Chinese students, particularly undergraduates, are coming to U.S. universities. In 2008, 98,510 Chinese graduate and undergraduate students “poured into U.S. colleges and universities, lured by China’s emphasis on academic achievement and the prestige of U.S. higher education.”

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Department of State educational and cultural exchange programs will be funded at $635 million in FY 2010, as reported in the FY 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act Summary for State and Foreign Operations, now available on the Senate Appropriations Committee website. This funding level is $97 million above the FY 2009 level of $538 million and $2 million above the President’s request.

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