December 20, 2011
Congress granted the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reauthorization for three more years on Friday, which could have been its final day of existence, Baptist Press reports. The bill instates limits to commissioners' terms, which will require seven of the nine current commissioners to leave the panel in 90 days, and also drops USCIRF's yearly budget from more than $4 million to $3 million, but religious freedom advocates are relieved and happy nonetheless. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) applauded Congress for re-authorizing the organization: "[USCIRF] speaks plainly about religious freedom abuses wherever they occur in ways that the State Department can barely muster, during Republican and Democrat administrations alike." Since it was established in 1998, USCIRF has played a major role in bringing attention to persecution of Christians worldwide.