Senate Votes to Save Religious Freedom Commission

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The United States Senate voted Wednesday to reauthorize the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, but there's a catch.

USCIRF monitors religious liberty worldwide. It was in danger of shutting down after the Senate held up reauthorization for months.

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., attached an amendment to the bill limiting the agency's commissioners to two two-year terms.

Dr. Richard Land, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, says the amendment would remove him and other long-serving commissioners, creating seven vacancies on the nine-member commission and leaving it with "very little institutional memory."

However, Land says concerns about term limits are less important than saving the agency that monitors religious persecution.

Commission Chairman Leonard Leo calls Durbin's amendment "acceptable."

The amended bill still has to pass the House by Friday or the commission will shut down.

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