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Clock is Ticking for Religious Freedom Panel

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The independent and bipartisan U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom could be forced to shut its doors if the Senate does not vote by week's end to reauthorize the panel.

The commission appears to be in legislative limbo after the House voted Sept. 15 to extend the panel for an additional two years. The commission is authorized through Sept. 30, but both houses of Congress are scheduled to be in recess starting Monday (Sept. 26).

Before the House vote, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., urged fellow members to support the watchdog panel that monitors the persecution of religious minorities across the globe. But he worried that the Senate might not act in time.

"Quite frankly, I believe that some over there and this very administration would not mind seeing this commission shut its doors," said Wolf, who authored the original 1998 legislation that created the commission.

The House voted 391-21 in favor of reauthorization; a spokeswoman for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee did not immediately ...

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