House lawmakers on Wednesday announced the creation of a Central America caucus, aimed at focusing U.S. efforts to the region.
First on the bipartisan 33-member caucus’s agenda was a Wednesday afternoon meeting with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, who earlier in the day with Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's 12:30 Report Biden spotted at Wizards playoff game Trump’s wall jams GOP in shutdown talks MORE.
“Despite the millions of Central Americans living in the US and the impact that changes in Central America have on our own economy and national security, for too long Congress and the administration have directed our attention to other parts of the world at the expense of the countries just beyond our borders,” Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) chairwoman of the caucus, said in a statement.
The working group could be “a valuable resource in educating Congress on current conditions and how the United States can assist,” added Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.).
Earlier in the day, Morales met with Biden at Washington's historical Blair House, along with El Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren and Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
In fiscal 2016, Congress authorized the U.S. to spend $750 million on its strategy for engaging Central America, which Biden called “a sign of the broad bipartisan support that still exists in the relationship to the region."
Other members of the caucus launched on Wednesday include Reps. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraBecerra: California under 'no obligation' to uphold Trump's unconstitutional order Becerra fires back: 'We're not in the business of deportation' Sunday shows preview: Trump stares down 100-day mark MORE (D-Calif.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Juan Vargas (D-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee
The other two Republican members are Reps. Reid RibbleReid RibbleWith Trump, conservatives hope for ally in 'War on Christmas' GOP rushes to embrace Trump House stays Republican as GOP limits losses MORE (R-Wis.) and Sean DuffySean DuffyAllow peaceful, law-abiding working immigrants out of the shadows GOP rep: Dems have done nothing to fix ObamaCare CNN host, GOP rep spar over Trump wiretap talk MORE (R-Wis.).