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Under Secretaries of State for Political Affairs

Congress first authorized the position of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs in the Department of State Organization Act of July 30, 1959 (P.L. 86–117; 73 Stat. 265), which allowed the President to appoint either an Under Secretary for Political Affairs or an Under Secretary for Economic Affairs, as the third-ranking officer in the Department. For most of the period, 1959–1972, the incumbent of this position served as the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. In an Act of July 13, 1972, Congress established separate and permanent positions at the Under Secretary of State level for Economic Affairs and for Political Affairs in the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (Public Law 92-352; 86 Stat. 490). The Under Secretary for Political Affairs, assists the Secretary and Deputy Secretary (previously the Under Secretary) in the formulation and conduct of U.S. foreign policy, and assists the Deputy Secretary in giving overall direction to the substantive functioning of the Department, including coordination of relations with other departments and agencies and interdepartmental activities of the U.S. Government overseas. Specific duties, responsibilities, and assignments have varied over time. Each incumbent is commissioned with a functional designation as part of his title.