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 BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE.
Members of the group, 30 of whom are Democrats, claimed that Central America had been consistently overlooked as a matter of U.S. policy.
“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 BecerraThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden to make voting rights play in Atlanta Democrats eager to fill power vacuum after Pelosi exit Overnight Health Care — Insurance will soon cover COVID-19 tests 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 James RibbleFormer lawmakers sign brief countering Trump's claims of executive privilege in Jan. 6 investigation The Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Influential Republicans threaten to form new party MORE (R-Wis.) and Sean DuffySean DuffyRebecca Kleefisch raises .3 million in Wisconsin gubernatorial bid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Biden unleashes on Trump and GOP Ex-Rep. Duffy rejects Trump entreaties, won't run for Wisconsin governor MORE (R-Wis.).