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Castro pledges to term limit himself if elected Foreign Affairs chair

Castro pledges to term limit himself if elected Foreign Affairs chair
© Greg Nash

Texas Democratic Rep. Joaquin CastroJoaquin CastroHouse formally sends impeachment to Senate, putting Trump on trial for Capitol riot Sunday shows preview: Washington prepares for an inauguration and impeachment; coronavirus surges across the US Pelosi names 9 impeachment managers MORE pledged to serve no more than four terms if elected chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, a seat he's seeking on a party unity platform.

In a "Dear colleague" letter sent Tuesday to House Democrats, Castro said Democrats retained the House majority in 2020 "powered by both progressives and moderates."

"And we need leadership who will build bridges among the diverse perspectives within our Caucus. I have profound respect for each and every one of you, and nothing unites us like the important work ahead," wrote Castro.

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Castro, a moderate with deep progressive ties, is the youngest candidate for the post, facing off against Reps. Brad ShermanBradley (Brad) James ShermanTributes pour in for Kobe Bryant on one-year anniversary of death Bottom line 150 House Democrats support Biden push to reenter Iran nuclear deal MORE (D-Calif.) and Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksBiden urged to reverse Pompeo-Trump move on Houthis House Democrats introduce measures to oppose Trump's bomb sale to Saudis Trust between lawmakers reaches all-time low after Capitol riots MORE (D-N.Y.).

While both Meeks and Sherman have seniority over Castro in the full committee, Castro, as the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations subcommittee, is the only candidate running who currently heads a Foreign Affairs panel.

The chairmanship is vacant for the incoming Congress because Chairman Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelState Department sets up new bureau for cybersecurity and emerging technologies How Congress dismissed women's empowerment 2020: A year in photos MORE (D-N.Y.) lost his House seat after 16 terms to Rep.-elect Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), a progressive primary challenger supported by the party's left.

The open chairmanship set up a race that's symbolic of the Democratic Party's internal debate over its seniority system, an institution that's set up to avoid intraparty squabbles and privilege legislative experience, but that's drawn criticism for shutting out younger members from positions of power.

Castro pledged to limit himself to four terms in the seat if he wins the chairmanship, but explicitly stated he is not calling for generalized term limits.

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"Our Democratic Caucus has extraordinary talent, but too often members do not have the opportunity to participate in committee leadership," wrote Castro. 

"I am not looking to impose term limits on anyone or make a formal rule change. However, if elected I am committed to turning the committee over to new leadership after my tenure, ensuring other members with significant experience can also have the opportunity," he added.

Given that opportunity, Castro wrote, he would work closely with the incoming Biden administration to rebuild the United States' network of allies abroad.

"President-Elect Biden gives us the chance to reclaim our leadership role in the world. Congress must be a partner with the Biden administration in rebuilding our alliances and re-engaging with the world," wrote Castro.

The election for House Foreign Affairs Committee chair is expected to take place at the end of November, after the House Democratic Caucus elects its top leadership posts.