House Bill strengthening U.S. ties to Caribbean passes
A House Bill seeking to strengthen U.S. involvement with the Caribbean has passed in the House of Representatives.
Called the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act (H.R. 4939), the bill would require the Secretary of State and the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to submit to Congress a multiyear strategy focused on enhancing engagement with the countries of the Caribbean and enhancing outreach to Diaspora communities in the U.S. The legislation puts particular emphasis on energy security, countering violence, expanded diplomacy, and economic diversification.
“We spend a great deal of time focusing on challenges and opportunities in faraway places. But it’s important that we never lose sight of our interests closer to home. Indeed, we should be working to strengthen our ties with countries in the Caribbean,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel, a ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and chief sponsor of the bill. “That’s the aim of this bill, which would prioritize U.S.-Caribbean relations for years to come.”
Regarding the Diaspora’s role in expanding the region’s relationships, the bill will broaden State Department and USAID outreach to the Caribbean Diaspora community in the United States to promote their involvement in Caribbean economic development and citizen security, particularly the effectiveness of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). The bill also seeks to reduce free trade and investment barriers, and support the training and employment of persons in marginalized communities.
Proposed on April 14, the bill was also co-sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. The bill’s passage comes on the 10th anniversary of National Caribbean-American Heritage Month.