Rep. Greg Meeks is First African American to Chair House Foreign Affairs Committee

New chair

Rep. Greg Meeks. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Congressman Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), senior Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was elected to Chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee, becoming the first African-American Chair in the committee’s history.

“I am incredibly honored to be elected Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a committee that I have served on throughout my tenure of service in Congress,” Meeks said, earlier today. “There is extraordinary talent across the committee and Democratic caucus, and I look forward to working closely with Members as we look ahead to a new era of US global affairs.”

“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.

“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.

“We will work to rejoin the JCPOA and WHO, but we will also need to establish new coalitions to address the existential crisis of climate change and emerging threats. 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. 

“None of that work, however, can be completed without a considerable rebuilding of our Department of State. Diplomacy must be moved front and center as the primary tool for conducting US foreign policy, no longer second to military action. The Foreign Affairs Committee must take a leading role in how we rebuild the State Department. We will broaden the conversation, hearing testimony from organizations and non-traditional diplomats. We will press for greater diversity so our diplomatic corps looks more like the America it represents abroad, strengthening the initiatives that serve as a pipeline for diverse communities. 

“In order to deepen the expertise of the committee and prepare for the challenges ahead of us, there is no substitute for on-the-ground experience, engaging with foreign governments and the people they’re meant to serve, through bi-partisan delegations. As Chair, I will utilize the expertise of our Committee members both in the Committee room and abroad, repairing old relationships and establishing new ones. 

“We can no longer be America first, but America forward. Our challenges before us are global in scale, and it will require global cooperation, spearheaded by American leadership. I am eager to begin work with my colleagues on the committee, and look forward to working with the new Biden-Harris administration on the tasks ahead of us.”

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