WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today praised passage in the House of Representatives of his legislation to strengthen United States engagement with Caribbean countries. The United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act (H.R. 4939), which Rep. Engel introduced with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), 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 United States. The legislation puts particular emphasis on energy security, countering violence, expanded diplomacy, and other priority areas.
“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 Rep. Engel on the House floor. “That’s the aim of this bill, which would prioritize U.S.-Caribbean relations for years to come.”
The legislation requires the State Department and USAID to:
- Identify agency efforts to prioritize U.S. policy towards the Caribbean;
- Outline an approach to broaden outreach to the Caribbean diaspora community in the United States;
- Outline an approach to partner with governments of the Caribbean region to improve citizen security and reduce drug trafficking;
- Establish a comprehensive, multi-year strategy to improve energy security and increase access to diverse, reliable, affordable and sustainable power;
- Outline an approach to improve diplomatic engagement with governments of the Caribbean region; and
- Develop an approach to assisting Caribbean countries in the diversification of their economies.
In addition, the bill requires the Government Accountability Office to produce two key reports:
- An evaluation of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) and a breakdown of CBSI assistance provided to each country; and
- An evaluation of U.S. diplomatic engagement with the Eastern Caribbean.