Mast sponsors State Department Security Notification Act

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) on Oct. 30 sponsored legislation that would require the U.S. Secretary of State to notify Congress when the security clearances of certain senior members of the U.S. Department of State are suspended or revoked.

Introduction of the bill, according to Rep. Mast, aims to prevent another situation like the one that happened in June with Robert Malley, the U.S. special envoy on Iran, who was placed on unpaid leave after his security clearance was suspended earlier this year amid an investigation into his handling of classified material.

Malley had played a key role in U.S. efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal, a challenging foreign policy situation facing the Biden administration after former President Donald Trump decided to walk away from the agreement that Malley played an important role in negotiating under President Barack Obama. Malley also was a key leader in seeking to secure the release of Americans wrongfully detained in Iran, according to media reports. 

“Robert Malley was under investigation for mishandling classified information at the exact moment the Middle East was erupting in a way we haven’t seen in decades, and Congress had no idea,” Rep. Mast said on Wednesday. “The State Department and the Biden administration owes transparency to its co-equal branch of government, but if it won’t meet that standard voluntarily, Congress will put it in statute.”

Toward that goal, Rep. Mast introduced the State Department Security Notification Act, H.R. 6119, alongside two original cosponsors, including U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), chairman of the U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee, which is now considering the bill.

If enacted, H.R. 6119 would require the State Department to brief the House Foreign Affairs Committee within 30 days if or when a senior official has his or her security clearance suspended or revoked.

More than two months passed before the suspension of Malley’s security clearance became public, according to Rep. Mast’s office.