Last week, US congressional leaders met to launch the “Congressional Argentina Caucus” – a pro-Argentina working group within the House of Representatives to bring together policymakers interested in furthering bilateral relations between the two countries. Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, and Peru also have similar groups. Caucuses have the ability to raise the profile of a specific issue or set of ideas, and this group can elevate the Argentine-American relationship to the next level.
The Wilson Center, a prominent Washington think-tank, hosted the caucus launch as part of its “Argentina Project” which intends to be the go-to research institution for the political and economic on-goings in Argentina. A group of Argentine Congressional leaders from Buenos Aires City and Buenos Aires Province were also present at the launch, including Karina Banfi, Marco Lavagna, Silvia Lospennato, and Cornelia Schmidt. Schmidt spoke on behalf of the delegation, affirming that the caucus was with “a country, not a government”, and highlighting the importance of inclusion for discussions with all political parties.
The caucus was previously announced in the fall of 2017 when it was formally brought forth with bilateral Congressional support by the Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (Republican, TX) and Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee Eliot Engel (Democrat, NY). In a joint statement, the Congressmen emphasized the compatibility of Argentina and the US as “natural partners” with “highly educated populations, diverse economies, and vast natural resources.” Engel called the caucus a “tool for exploring the untapped potential of the US-Argentina relationship.” They also lauded the economic reforms underway by Mauricio Macri which they say has helped renew Argentina’s position of leadership in Latin America.
In an interview with Clarin, McCaul underscored that groups like the Argentina Caucus in the legislative can complement and enhance the relationship that both the Executive Branch and State Department foster with Argentina. Creating the caucus raises awareness on Argentina’s importance in the region as well as the opportunities it provides for American businesses. Alluding to a “complicated relationship” of years past, McCaul stated that Argentina is on the “right path” which he believes is good for both countries.
A press release from the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that the “creation of a friendship group with Argentina at the US House of Representatives marks a new step in reaffirming the bilateral relationship and serves as a valuable platform for engagement, especially between Argentine and American lawmakers.”