New Legislation to Strengthen Ties Between U.S. and the Caribbean

Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) (L), and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) (L), and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New legislation to enhance U.S. engagement with the Caribbean has passed both the House and Senate and is headed to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

The new law, sponsored by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), a former chair of the Committee, calls for a new, long-term strategy to strengthen ties between the United States and its Caribbean neighbors.

“At a time when our friends in the Caribbean need us more than ever, this bill will prioritize our partnership with the subregion for many years to come. It is long past time to have a multi-year strategy that will allow us to increase engagement with the Caribbean, especially when it comes to energy and security,” Engel said. “The countries of the Caribbean are profoundly important to the United States, and particularly to the many Caribbean-American citizens in our country. I look forward to working with the Caribbean-American diaspora to ensure that they can provide input to the State Department and USAID on U.S. relations with the Caribbean in the years ahead. With constant crises around the globe that demand U.S. attention, we must not lose sight of our long-term interests close to home.”

“I am honored to work alongside my friend and colleague Eliot Engel in order to send this important legislation aimed at prioritizing our bilateral relationships with allies in the Caribbean to the president’s desk,” Ros-Lehtinen added. “We must strengthen our relationship with Caribbean nations so that they view the U.S. as a reliable partner and push back against the negative influence of [Venezuela president] Maduro’s corrupt regime in the region. It is vital to work proactively and collaboratively with Caribbean nations to promote close cooperation in the areas of security, trade, illicit trafficking and energy, and I look forward to seeing this important legislation implemented in order to advance our own national security interests,”

The United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act (HR 4939) will strengthen relations with the Caribbean by requiring the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to submit to Congress a multi-year strategy focused on enhancing engagement with the countries of the Caribbean.

The legislation puts particular emphasis on energy security, countering violence, expanding diplomacy and providing educational exchange opportunities for citizens of the Caribbean.


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