Central America Caucus Kicks Off by Meeting with Guatemalan President
WASHINGTON, DC—Today, Members of Congress launched the Central America Caucus, a newly-formed, bipartisan group of 32 Members of Congress chaired by Rep. Norma J. Torres (D-CA) that is aimed at enhancing understanding about Central America and providing a forum for members and staff to discuss U.S. policy toward the region. The Caucus’s first order of business was a meeting with Guatemala’s newly-elected President, Jimmy Morales.
“Despite the millions of Central Americans living in the US and the impact that changes in Central America have on our own economy and national security, for too long Congress and the administration have directed our attention to other parts of the world at the expense of the countries just beyond our borders,” said Torres. “The Central America Caucus will provide an avenue to educate Members on the issues facing Central America and to maintain a continuous, productive engagement between Congress and governments and civil society in the region.”
"I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Central America Caucus to focus on the issues the region faces and to develop strategies and policies that can improve the human rights conditions for the millions in Central America,” said Rep. David Valadao (R-CA). “It is my hope that the Caucus will serve as a valuable resource in educating Congress on current conditions and how the United States can assist."
“I am pleased to join Congresswoman Torres as a founding member of the Central America Caucus,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. “The Obama Administration has provided bold, new leadership by investing in Central America and addressing the root causes of child migration from Central America to the United States. I commend Rep. Torres for her initiative in establishing this Caucus which demonstrates Congress’s commitment to supporting the people of Central America as they work to enhance prosperity and reduce violence and corruption.”
The caucus announcement coincides with a meeting between the presidents of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the progress of the Plan of the Alliance for Prosperity in the Northern Triangle. The Obama administration’s FY2017 budget proposal, announced on February 9th, includes $1 billion to support the U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America. Congress approved $750 million for the Strategy for FY 2016; the administration’s request for that year was also $1 billion.
“The Northern Triangle countries continue to face significant challenges including corruption, violence, and lack of opportunity,” continued Rep. Torres, who recently traveled with the Vice President to the inauguration of Guatemala’s new president, Jimmy Morales. “I and my fellow Caucus members are committed to working in Congress to ensure the U.S. continues to focus on the region and that Congress provides the necessary oversight to ensure our assistance goes where it is intended and produces real results.”
The meeting with Caucus members and President Morales will take place at 5:15pm on Wednesday, February 24th.