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Dozens of progressive groups endorse Joaquin Castro for Foreign Affairs chair

Dozens of progressive groups endorse Joaquin Castro for Foreign Affairs chair
© Greg Nash

Dozens of progressive groups on Friday put their support behind 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 (D-Texas) to be the next chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, saying the congressman elevates voices of diversity and speaks out against U.S. military intervention.

The endorsement was organized by the Center for International Policy and co-led by Justice Democrats and the Sunrise Movement and includes support from a total of 50 progressive organizations.

“Rep. Castro has demonstrated a strong commitment to bringing a diversity of voices into discussions on foreign policy. Too often, the voices of those impacted by U.S. foreign policy are left out of the conversations in Washington. We believe Rep. Castro can protect our families and communities by promoting diplomacy and other nonviolent means - rooted in cooperation - to achieve U.S. foreign policy objectives,” the endorsement read. 

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“As Black, indigenous, and other communities of color face increased militarism at home, and as U.S. militarism abroad has led to disastrous endless wars, we are impressed with Rep. Castro’s transparent and engaging campaign for HFAC Chair, that focuses on the root causes of militarism,” it continued. 

Castro is considered a long-shot for the panel’s top post, where he is facing off against the second- and third-ranking members, Rep. 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 Rep. 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.), for a position that is traditionally decided by seniority. 

Rep. 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.), the current chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will be leaving the post in January after losing his Democratic primary race in July to progressive challenger and Rep.-elect Jamaal Bowman. 

The chairmanship is expected to be decided in an election within the House Democratic caucus taking place at the end of November. 

Campaigning for chairmanship largely takes place within the party caucus, but the outside endorsement by dozens of progressive groups signals the interest of millions of Americans the 50 signing groups represent. The endorsement also underscores a growing divide in the Democratic party between its centrist leadership and progressive wing. 

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Moderate Democrats have lashed out at left-wing Democrats for supporting policies like redistributing police funds and calling for a ban on fracking. Moderates say that their support fueled Republican political attack ads that cost Democrats at least nine House seats in the 2020 election.

The progressive groups supporting Castro also highlighted the Texas Democrat’s emphasis on climate change as the most important issue confronting U.S. foreign policy, opposition to sanctions campaigns against adversaries and calls for redirecting U.S. military funding to domestic priorities.

The groups also commended Castro for speaking out against sanction campaigns on Iran, his calls to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen and calls for reducing America’s military presence in the region.

“We need a fundamental shift in U.S. foreign policy. Rep. Castro has demonstrated a commitment to centering the voices of impacted communities at the forefront of U.S. foreign policy,” said Yasmine Taeb, Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy. 

“Rep. Castro embodies a progressive vision for the U.S. in the world, one that prioritizes diplomacy and multilateralism over militarism,” Taeb added. 

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Vasudha Desikan, political director at the Action Center for Race and the Economy (ACRE), said the organization is putting its support behind Castro for his commitment to drawing down U.S. investment in the military complex and redirecting funds domestically. 

“ACRE is committed to taking on the financial sector that pillages communities of color and devastates working class communities. This requires supporting a U.S. foreign policy that reckons with the destruction it has caused across the globe and puts community needs over corporate profits moving forward,” Desikan said in a statement. 

“We need new leadership that understands the need for a massive shift in U.S. foreign policy, one driven by ending war and pursuing accountability."