Congressman Castro Announces He Will Seek House Foreign Affairs Chairmanship
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and member of the House Intelligence and Education and Labor Committees, today released the following statement announcing his intention to run for Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee:
“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. I believe we must put diplomacy at the center of our strategy and rebuild America’s infrastructure of diplomacy to achieve a more open, peaceful and just world. That’s why I’m running for Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee,” said Castro.
“In this moment of pandemic and protest, we are confronting hard truths about how unequal our nation remains. Our foreign policy is due for a similar reckoning. The challenges of the 21st century are immense, but a new generation of Americans is ready to lead. I’ve listened and worked with foreign policy professionals, progressive voices, and champions of human rights who are calling for new leadership. Now it is with hope of empowering new voices, as well as optimism in America’s capacity to do good in the world, that I seek the Chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”
In a Medium post, Castro outlined his agenda for a more progressive foreign policy and a more transparent nomination process.
Read his full op-ed here and below.
Castro: We Need A New Generation of Foreign Policy Leadership
I came to Washington to help make the dreams of families like mine real. My grandmother was an orphan who fled a war torn nation after the Mexican Revolution. Julián, my twin brother, and I were raised by her and our mother, a Chicana activist, who raised hell so her sons could have more opportunity than she did.We grew up in a humble community, attended public schools, pursued our higher education dreams and became public servants. Today I have the honor of serving the people of San Antonio, Texas, in Congress and leading the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
My family’s progress represents the promise of America—a nation bound together not by race or religion, but by the principle that all people are created equal. Out of many, we become one. While we have not always lived up to the ideals in our founding documents, our democracy is still our best hope for a more perfect union. Yet today, democracy is under assault not only in the United States, but across the world.
Authoritarianism is rising. Economic inequality is widening. Climate change is accelerating. Mass migration is increasing. Corruption is undermining the rule of law. Disinformation is dividing open societies. The COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying poverty, hunger and illness worldwide. Overcoming these global challenges will not be easy.
U.S. foreign policy has at times made matters worse. Wars of choice have diminished our moral standing, destabilized entire regions—as the Iraq War did to the Middle East—burdened our troops and their families, wasted limited resources, and killed innocent lives. Our network of alliances and multilateral institutions are a unique source of American strength in need of recommitment, renewal and reinvention. A global pandemic is impacting our daily lives, making clear that what happens in other parts of the world affects us here.
We need a new generation of foreign policy leadershipwith a new vision that promotes inclusive prosperity and democracy at home and a more holistic view of security abroad. I believe we must put diplomacy at the center of our strategy and rebuild America’s infrastructure of diplomacy to achieve a more open, peaceful and just world. That’s why I’m running for Chairofthe House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Now in my eighth year in Congress, I’m the only member of the House of Representatives that has served on the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Intelligence committees—the nexus of American national security and U.S. foreign policy. Working at the intersection of diplomacy, defense and intelligence, I’ve come to fully appreciate the power of diplomacy to shape the world as it ought to be.
I’m the Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations and serve as Vice Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a position created so a new generation could have the opportunity to lead one of the oldest and most powerful Congressional committees. Traditionally, selecting new chairs is a behind-the-scenes process, but at this moment in history, the American people deserve more transparency and accountability. It’s time for a more inclusive process that looks beyond solely seniority. This race is an opportunity to democratize foreign policy.
Let’s have a national conversation about the role of the United States in the world, democracy and human rights, war and peace, and the future of our planet. Let’s have a real debate and participate in forums so people know where candidates stand on the issues. Let’s include more input from other members on the topics we should cover in the committee, and use our platform to highlight injustice such as the ethic cleansing of Uighurs in western China and movements for universal rights like in Hong Kong. Let’s welcome more voices—women, African Americans, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, immigrants and indigenous peoples—at the witness table, as I have done through the CHC-led Tri-Caucus Diversity Initiative. The next chair must take the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a new direction to meet the immense challenges of the 21st century.
First and foremost, foreign policy starts at home. Our ability to promote peace and human rights abroad is directly connected to our capacity to advance equality and justice in the United States. From voter suppression and systemic racism to foreign disinformation and the corrupting influence of money in politics, right now our democracy is under attack. American and other free societies are in a competition with oligarchic and authoritarian forces. This is not only an external threat. President Trump has found kindred spirits in authoritarians like Xi Jinping, Tayyip Erdogan, Viktor Orbán, and Vladimir Putin, and has worked with them to undermine the rule of law.
As an Intelligence Committee member, I was a part of the investigation into both the Russian 2016 election interference and the Trump impeachment inquiry, and I understand how malicious actors are working to undermine our democracy. U.S. foreign policy needs to confront transnational corruption and complement domestic efforts to ensure our democracy remains a government for, by, and of the people. While it’s true our power internationally depends on our strength domestically, we can never lose sight that the purpose of statecraft is not geopolitics—success of U.S. foreign policy is measured by improvements in American lives. Democracy is not just an end, it’s a means to make progress.
That means advancing the rights of workers and environmental protections. We must rethink trade so globalization benefits workers and the planet, not just corporations and consumers. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) shows that when progressives push back, we can secure better agreements. The next chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee needs to stand up for working people rather than corporate interests and also push climate goals as part of future trade agreements.
Our nation’s two greatest geopolitical challenges in the 21st century are the climate crisis and competition with China. To overcome these challenges, we will need both skilled diplomacy and robust partnerships with other democratic nations, rooted in shared values and grounded in common challenges to free and open societies. That’s why I co-founded the U.S.-Japan Caucus to strengthen our alliance with a democratic ally in the Indo-Pacific and the ASEAN Caucus to recommit the United States to multilateralism. We must work together to strengthen our resilience against internal and external threats to our democracy and freedom, build a fairer economy, and compete with alternative systems of governance. As we preserve and improve ties with long-standing allies, we must not be afraid to seek out new friends in new places, looking West and South to strengthen our relationships with nations where an ever greater number of Americans trace their family roots.
I believe America must be a beacon of hope for the oppressed and a place of refuge for the vulnerable. Today almost 80 million people are displaced—the highest number since the Second World War.As Chair, I will put our country’s identity as a nation of immigrants at the forefront of our foreign policy. We must also address the fact that too often our foreign policy has been a driver of displacement from Central America to the Middle East, while rising sea levels and extreme weather are creating climate refugees. We need to address the root causes of migration while also doing our part to welcome new Americans.
Second, we need to change the way the United States approaches the world. For too long, our foreign policy has been dominated by military and other coercive tools like sanctions. The costs to us have been high and the benefits few. Far too often, the primary victims abroad are civilians whom we should be seeking to empower, not impoverish. We need to move beyond blunt punitive measure and reactive crisis management and recommit to proactive diplomacy to shape a better tomorrow. At a time of immense international challenges such as a global pandemic, we cannot afford to engage productively with our allies alone. Direct dialogue with our competitors and adversaries enables us to promote our values, advance our interests, defuse tensions peacefully, and cooperate on shared priorities.In short, we need a new foreign policy that puts diplomacy at the center of our strategy.
That’s why we must rebuild America’s infrastructure of diplomacy. The U.S. State Department needs the best among us and America’s diplomats should reflect the diversity of America. I led the expansion of the Rangel and Pickering fellowships signed into law by President Obama; now as Chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, I’m holding the Trump administration accountable for its lack of qualified and diverse diplomats. Foggy Bottom needs to be more flexible for American families that look different from decades past, and it needs to be more agile in attracting in different skills—economists, scientists, technologists—and directing them to outposts where they are needed most.
Diplomacy is our best tool for managing some of the most serious challenges we face, threats that previous generations of foreign policy leaders have not wrestled with, like corruption, inequality, and the climate crisis. That means doing the hard work of articulating why complex, but successful international agreements such as the Iran Nuclear Deal, Paris Climate Accords, and the opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba are vital to advance our values and interests. Congress should also ensure that targeted sanctions are part of a diplomatic strategy and do not hurt innocent civilians while entrenching authoritarians and fraying alliances. The next Chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee must be a tireless champion for the power of diplomacy and also a potential partner with a new administration—whatever the election outcome, we must be prepared to defend our democratic values.
Third, Congress must reassert its role under Article I of the U.S. Constitution to restrain executive power. That’s why I proudly led the effort in Congress to reject President Trump’s unconstitutional construction of his racist border wall, which passed with bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate. As House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, I will similarly lead Congress in defending its sole authority over the offensive use of force.
That means repealing the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that’s proliferated U.S military engagements. We must bring the nearly two decade war in Afghanistan to an end. We must end the U.S. government’s role in the Saudi-led war in Yemen, doing everything we can to end the severe human suffering exacerbated by the Trump administration’s suspension of humanitarian aid. The House Foreign Affairs Committee must take a leading role in reclaiming War Powers from the Executive branch. After years of blood and treasure lost in endless wars, COVID-19’s daily death toll is a tragic reminder that our military might alone cannot protect us from global challenges.
In this moment of pandemic and protest, we are confronting hard truths about how unequal our nation remains. Our foreign policy is due for a similar reckoning. The challenges of the 21st century are immense, but a new generation of Americans is ready to lead. I’ve listened and worked with foreign policy professionals, progressive voices, and champions of human rights who are calling for new leadership. Now it is with hope of empowering new voices, as well as optimism in America’s capacity to do good in the world, that I seek the Chairmanship of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
# # #
Katherine Schneider (202) 836-1086
Next Article Previous Article