The United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016 was sponsored by Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Representative Eliot Engel, and was passed in the House 386 to 6 when the vote was taken on Monday.
“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. That’s the aim of this bill, which would prioritize US-Caribbean relations for years to come,” Engel told the House.
The Bill directs the Department of State to submit to Congress a multi-year strategy for US engagement with the Caribbean region that: identifies State Department and US Agency for International Development (USAID) efforts to prioritize US policy towards the Caribbean region; broadens State Department and USAID outreach to the Caribbean Diaspora community in the United States to promote their involvement in Caribbean economic development and citizen security; outlines an approach to partner with Caribbean governments to improve citizen security, reduce illicit drug trafficking, strengthen the rule of law, and improve the effectiveness of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI); encourages efforts of the region to implement regional and national strategies that improve Caribbean energy security; improves diplomatic engagement with Caribbean governments; and assists Caribbean countries in diversifying their economies, reducing free trade and investment barriers, and supporting the training and employment of persons in marginalized communities.
The Bill now has to go to Senate for consideration. It must be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then be signed by the President to become law.