Washington D.C. – Ranking Member Eliot Engel, the senior Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, praised the Senate passage of the House-amended Organization of American States Revitalization and Reform Act of 2013 -- legislation intended to reform and modernize the OAS while strengthening U.S. ties to the regional body.
“I’m very pleased that this important bill is on its way to the President for his signature, and I’d like to commend Senator Robert Menendez, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for his leadership on this issue. The legislation includes a provision I authored that requests the State Department to lay out a roadmap to achieve a more egalitarian OAS fee structure, and I hope this will spark a productive dialogue with our fellow member states – in the spirit of consensus and partnership -- over modernizing and strengthening the organization.
The passage of this legislation signals a rebound in the Congressional relationship with the OAS, which reached its nadir two years ago when the Committee voted to defund the entirety of U.S. annual contributions to the OAS. The House wisely refused to take up the underlying legislation defunding the OAS at the time, but the sheer recklessness of that bill did much to erode our influence and credibility at the regional body. While the OAS can certainly improve, it has clearly demonstrated its importance and utility as a multilateral body charged with promoting human rights and democratic governance.
Earlier today I met personally with Vice President Biden and asked him to urge President Obama to sign this bill into law without delay. In partnership with Congress, the Administration can continue to work with the OAS to improve its effectiveness in concert with our regional partners.”