WASHINGTON: Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks, a strong supporter of the India-US relationship, was on Thursday elected as the next chairman of the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee, becoming the first African-American to head the Congressional committee that plays an influential role in shaping the foreign policy of the US.
Meeks, 67, would replace fellow Democratic New Yorker Congressman Eliott Engel as the Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the 117th Congress next year.
Meeks, who had paid floral tributes at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at the Gandhi Plaza on October 2, is also a powerful member of the Black Caucus.
“The committee under the next Congress will preside over an historic shift in US foreign policy, and there is no shortage of work ahead of us. Not only will we need to re-engage with a world that has felt the marked absence of US global leadership, but we must also rethink traditional approaches to foreign policy,” Meeks said.
“This will not be a return to normal, but a leap towards a new way of doing business. We will broaden our scope and outreach to parts of the world we’ve historically overlooked.
“We will return as partners to our European allies, but we will also need to build new multilateral relationships in the Western Hemisphere and Africa. We can only address the systemic challenges posed by Moscow and Beijing with the help of like-minded friends,” the Congressman said.
He said the new administration will work to rejoin the JCPOA and WHO and establish new coalitions to address the existential crisis of climate change and emerging threats.
JCPOA or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly known as Iran nuclear deal, was signed during the Obama era. His successor Donald Trump withdrew from JCPOA.
“In pushing further on the fight for human rights across the world, we must lead by humble example with the weight of US moral credibility. We will need to take back Congress’ constitutional authority, tightening the scope of AUMFs that have led to ambiguous forever wars,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, in a virtual interaction with a group of eminent Indian-Americans, Meeks said that he supports a stronger relationship with India, as he underlined that most of the COVID-19 vaccines will be coming from India.
Meeks said it is important to continue to work with friends like India for a stronger relationship.
He also recognised the contributions of Indian-Americans to the country and the role they played in strengthening the bond between both the democracies.
Meeks said he was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s role in shaping a plural world from South Africa and the influence it had on him and his ideal, Martin Luther King.
Congratulating Meeks on his election as the next Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Congressman Engel said that his successor has deep knowledge of foreign policy issues, his profound commitment to an American foreign policy rooted in values, and his understanding of the importance of Congress’s role in these matters.
The Democratic Caucus chose Chairman-elect Meeks as the best leader to stand up for its members’ priorities, he said.
Congressman Michael McCaul, Republican Leader on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that Meeks has extensive foreign policy knowledge and experience.
“We have worked together on many important issues on the Committee. I look forward to working with him closely and continuing the Committee’s tradition of bipartisanship on behalf of the American people,” he said.