George Washington signed a congressional bill into law on July 27, 1789 (1 Stat. 28), creating an executive Department of Foreign Affairs headed by a Secretary of Foreign Affairs, whose position had existed since 1781 under the Articles of Confederation. Congress then passed another law giving certain additional domestic responsibilities to the new Department and changing its name to the Department of State and the name of head of the department to the Secretary of State, and Washington approved this act on September 15, 1789. The new domestic duties assigned to the newly renamed department were receipt, publication, distribution, and preservation of laws of the United States, custody of the Great Seal of the United States, authentication of copies and preparation of commissions of executive branch appointments, and finally custody of the books, papers, and records of the Continental Congress including the Constitution itself and the Declaration of Independence.
Most of the original domestic functions of the Department of State have been transferred to other agencies. Those that remain in the Department are: storage and use of the Great Seal, performance of protocol functions for the White House, drafting of certain Presidential proclamations, formally accepting notice of the president's resignation, and replies to public inquiries. In addition, the Secretary performs such duties as the President is required, in accordance with the United States Constitution, relating to correspondence, commission, or instructions to U.S. ministers or consuls abroad, and to conduct negotiations with foreign representatives. The Secretary has also served as principal adviser to the President in the determination and execution of U.S. foreign policy and in recent decades has become responsible for overall direction, coordination, and supervision of interdepartmental activities of the U.S. Government overseas, except for certain military activities.
Only a day after Bernardo Alvarez, VenezuelaÂ’s Ambassador to the U.S., met with Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon, in which relations were said to take a new turn for the better, U.S. Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice said the Bush administration is working on creating a Â“united frontÂ” of countries against Venezuela.
Secretary of StateCondoleezza Rice, speaking at a U.S. Senate budget hearing yesterday, seemed to reverse the progress that was made a mere day earlier.
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