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Photo: AP file/Adobe Spark
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Joaquin Castro proves why he should be Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee

The Texas Rep. recently announced his bid, challenging elders and calling for a new generation of foreign policy.

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Whispers of Joaquin Castro’s possible bid for Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have been circulating for weeks, but official announcements could not be made until every ballot was counted in the primary race for New York’s 16th congressional district.

This week, Jamaal Bowman officially defeated Rep. Eliot Engel, a 16-term veteran who has served in the House for nearly 32 years. Vanquished by a well-known middle school principal and activist from the Bronx, Engel’s defeat has opened doors not only to more progressive leadership in his district, but to more progressive leadership on a national level.

Ballot counts lasted for weeks, but Bowman’s early decisive lead set forth bids for Engel’s replacement behind the scenes.

Now in his eighth year in Congress, Joaquin Castro officially announced his candidacy for Foreign Affairs Committee Chair on July 21, saying he believes the nation must put diplomacy at center state, “to achieve a more open, peaceful and just world.”

“Let’s have a real debate about the future of U.S. foreign policy,” Castro wrote on Twitter.

“That’s why I’m running for Chair of the house Foreign Affairs Committee,” he continued.
 

The announcement pits Castro, chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, against more senior colleagues in contention for the position. They include Rep. Brad Sherman of California and Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York.

But in an op-ed for Medium, Castro proved why seniority doesn’t matter when what is needed is a new vision for foreign policy, instead of a successor who will simply continue Engel’s policies.

“We need a new generation of foreign policy leadership with a new vision that promotes inclusive prosperity and democracy at home and a more holistic view of security abroad,” wrote Castro in his op-ed.

Castro emphasized the issues of climate change and China’s role in international politics, also bringing attention to the historically excluded voices of women, Black Americans, Latinos, Palestinians, Indigenous people and the LGBTQ community.

“The next chair must take the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a new direction to meet the immense challenges of the 21st century,” Castro wrote.

While normally a behind-the-scenes process, Castro believes this House Foreign Affairs race is an opportunity for the nation to have an open discussion on the nation’s role in the world.

“I’m reaching out to my Democratic Caucus colleagues to share my vision and ask for their consideration and support,” Castro wrote on Twitter.

“We must also have a larger conversation as Democrats about what we believe and the future of US foreign policy. I look forward to all of it over the coming months,” he continued.
 

Castro knows this from experience, not only as a politician, but as the grandson of immigrants from Mexico.

Already touting an extensive record on immigration and border legislation, Castro argues Washington should be more open to speaking with its adversaries in order to form new alliances, such as in Latin America.

Castro has also experienced the disproportionate effects on the Latinx community by COVID-19. His stepmother recently died of the illness, and his father has been forced to also battle it alone.

Progressive Democrats are already rallying behind Castro, but he doesn’t yet have all of the establishment on his side. Nancy Pelosi, for instance, endorsed Engle while running in the primary election.

But Castro’s bid is seen as an effort to redefine the party’s priorities on foreign policy, and he’s ready.

“Let’s have a real debate and participate in forums so people know where candidates stand on these issues,” he wrote.

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