WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), on Tuesday reintroduced the City and State Diplomacy Act, legislation to establish an Office of City and State Diplomacy within the Department of State to help mayors and governors engage with their foreign counterparts and solidify a subnational diplomacy structure within the federal government.

The City and State Diplomacy Act would codify the Office of City and State Diplomacy at the State Department, led by an Ambassador-at-Large, to maintain international networks and reduce duplication and inefficiency in outreach by mayors and governors to create jobs, promote economic development, improve public health, and protect the environment. This legislation would also help connect Americans to the policy-making process, highlight the local impact of diplomacy and forge ties with foreign mayors and governors who are the future national-level leaders of their countries. From deepening cultural exchanges to promoting U.S. trade and investment, the City and State Diplomacy Act will equip mayors and governors to address global challenges from their own backyard.

“We need to get smarter about the tools we use to engage in foreign policy, and our mayors and governors are an untapped resource for relationship-building and global leadership. This legislation would provide a federal infrastructure to help city and state governments engage with their foreign counterparts – a strategy we’ve already seen China deploy in efforts to expand its global reach. In an increasingly connected world, mayors and governors have major roles to play in not only trade but also in tackling global challenges like combatting the climate crisis and preventing the next pandemic. If we want to compete with China, it’s time we get creative and invest in subnational diplomacy,” said Murphy.

“Cities and states play a role in protecting communities from malicious foreign actors by leveraging diplomatic relations with their counterparts overseas,” said Cornyn. “This legislation would create a State Department office specifically to help mayors and governors work more efficiently with leaders in other countries against threats from places like China.”

“State and local governments already have strong connections around the world  to serve their residents, and we warmly welcome this groundbreaking legislation to create a new capacity in the State Department to strengthen our knowledge, ability and connections,” said Los Angeles Deputy Mayor for International Affairs Nina Hachigian.

This bill has been widely endorsed by both the foreign policy establishment and state and local government advocates, including the American Foreign Service Association, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Conference of Mayors, the German Marshall Fund, VoteVets, and Tom Shannon, the former Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs.

Full text of the bill is available here