With an easy primary victory behind him and with a clear path ahead to his 13th term on Capitol Hill, Congressman Gregory Meeks announced Friday that he is seeking chairmanship of the powerful House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Meeks made his bid official after 16-term Congressman Elliot Engel, 73, who held the committee leadership, was upset by a progressive former school principal Jamaal Bowman, who was backed by the insurgent Justice Democrats wing of the party.
“Congress, as an equal branch of government, must play a strident role in reshaping and rebuilding America’s place in the world. It is the duty of Congress to exercise its broad jurisdiction through this Committee.”
If successful, the 66-year-old Meeks would become the first Black chair of the committee.
“I have spent my career dedicated to forming relationships not just with our allies, but also with our competitors, including forging pathways forward with our adversaries,” Meeks said. “I worked actively to push the Iran nuclear agreement through Congress. While it is never easy to remove barriers and normalize diplomatic relations, these steps are necessary for overcoming global threats and placing our nation in the strongest position possible to negotiate where conflict is intractable. I believe it often requires greater courage to prioritize diplomacy over intervention and human rights over convenience. As a New York member who voted against the Iraq war, I understand these choices may not always be popular, but these have been my guiding principles and practices.”
The chairmanship will be decided after the general election in November. Meeks will not have a Republican challenger in the race.
“We face now a new and unique crisis: a crisis of credibility in the United States because of the dismantling of America’s global standing at the hands of the current administration,” Meeks said. “During a time of worldwide struggle for social justice, rising authoritarianism and deeper humanitarian crises, there is an urgent need for the U.S. to constructively reengage with the international community. We must recommit where we reneged, reengage international organizations that we once championed, and [reimagine] where we have been sclerotic in our thinking. We cannot continue to ensnare ourselves in forever wars. More of the same is not an option.”
Meeks added that America cannot inspire leadership and change without moral authority.
“The American story, of a nation that fought itself free from colonial rule and established that all men are created equal, is the story that first positioned America to become the global champion for liberty and democracy. But that story is also checkered, of a nation founded on the genocide of Native Americans, made prosperous through the labor of my enslaved ancestors, that holds children in cages who today seek refuge across borders, and struggles still to deliver equality and justice for all,” Meeks said. “The United States’ ability to promote human rights and democratic values across the world is undermined if we don’t practice at home what we preach abroad, recognizing that foreign policy is inseparable from domestic policy. Our international standing has always been linked to our ability to do better at home.”
Meeks is expected to face off against Reps. Joaquin Castro and Brad Sherman for the position.
“American foreign policy cannot be consumed by only fixing what has been fractured under this administration and poor decisions of the past. We must move proactively forward, diversifying our diplomatic corps so it is diverse as the nation it represents, redoubling our multilateral efforts to meet the scale of the challenges before us,” Meeks said. “There is a wide array of talent and expertise among my colleagues that sit on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and throughout the Democratic Caucus. I have cultivated enduring relationships with foreign nations, and I believe I am now uniquely positioned to optimize the leverage the full scope of this committee’s expertise and jurisdiction. There is no more important time for us to rise to the occasion.”