Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3658, introduced by my good friend from Puerto Rico (Mr. Fortuo).
This bill will make a long overdue clarification to the Foreign Service Act that will allow American foreign service officers to take rest and recuperation travel, commonly referred to as R&R, in American Samoa, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and, of course, the United States Virgin Islands.
American diplomatic personnel who serve at hardship posts overseas are allowed to take State Department-funded R&R travel either at locations abroad or locations in the United States. But the phrase "locations in the United States" has been interpreted by the State Department regulation to exclude U.S. territories for some reason. That interpretation has placed a distinctly unfair burden on foreign service officers from those territories who might wish to spend their R&R with families at home.
It also puts U.S. territories at a disadvantage compared to other destinations abroad or in the United States where our diplomatic personnel may want to travel to rest and recuperate.
I want to commend our colleagues who have sponsored this legislation to remove this inadvertent and unfair provision. H.R. 3658 is a worthy bill that deserves our unanimous support.
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