By: Melvin Samuel
Four prominent Indian-American lawmakers – Pramila Jayapal, Ami Bera, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ro Khanna– have been appointed members of three key House panels, reflecting the growing influence of the community in US politics.
Congresswoman Jayapal has been named Ranking Member of the powerful House Judiciary Committee’s panel on Immigration, making her the first immigrant to serve in a leadership role for the subcommittee.
Jayapal, 57, representing the 7th Congressional District of Washington State succeeds Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren to serve on the Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement, a media release said.
“As the first South Asian woman elected to the US House of Representatives and one of only two dozen naturalised citizens in Congress, I am honoured and humbled to serve as the Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement,” said Jayapal.
“I came to this country when I was 16, alone, and with nothing in my pockets. After 17 years on an alphabet soup of visas to become a US citizen, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to live the American Dream, a dream that is out of reach for too many immigrants today,” she said.
“It is extremely meaningful to me that I will now be in this position to better move the needle and re-centre our broken immigration system around dignity, humanity, and justice. As I step into this role, I would also like to thank Representative Lofgren for her years of dedicated leadership on the Subcommittee, and look forward to continuing to work with her,” Jayapal said.
Bera, 57, has been appointed as a member of a powerful US House committee handling intelligence-related matters.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence is charged with providing oversight of the country’s intelligence activities, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), National Security Agency (NSA), as well as military intelligence programmes.
“I am honoured to be appointed by Leader (Hakeem) Jeffries to serve on the House Intelligence Committee, which plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety and national security of the United States,” Bera said.
A six-time Congressman, Bera represents the sixth Congressional District of California.
“At a time of increased threats, both at home and abroad, I take seriously this new role and the responsibility entrusted to me to protect and defend American families,” he said.
“With my decade of experience working on critical national security issues, I look forward to working with Committee members from both sides of the aisle to ensure our intelligence agencies are operating effectively to keep our nation safe,” Bera said.
Bera also serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Science, Space and Technology Committee.
During the 117th Congress, Bera served as Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation, where he spearheaded Congressional efforts to strengthen ties with Indo-Pacific allies and partners to advance the US economic and security interests.
Krishnamoorthi has been made Ranking Member of a newly created House Committee on China that will look into various aspects of Chinese behaviour, the threat being posed to the US and the world.
US House of Representatives Minority Leader Jeffries on Wednesday announced the appointment of Krishnamoorthi as Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Another Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna has also been made a member of this new committee, formed in the 118th Congress by Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for the specific purpose of investigating and developing policy to address the United States’ economic, technological and security competition with the Chinese Communist Party.
Krishnamoorthi, 49, is the four-term Congressman representing the eight Congressional districts of Illinois, while Khanna, 46, is the four-term lawmaker representing the 17th Congressional district of California.
“I am grateful to Leader Jeffries for appointing me to serve as Ranking Member on the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party,” said Krishnamoorthi.
“The Chinese Communist Party poses serious economic and security threats to the United States and to democracy and prosperity across the globe, illustrated by its threats against Taiwan’s democracy, its weaponisation of TikTok, and its theft of hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American intellectual property,” he said.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues in both parties on this committee to counteract the CCP’s escalating aggression and ensure that our nation is prepared to overcome the economic and security challenges that the CCP presents to our country,” Krishnamoorthi said.
He said it was important to protect the interests of the American people.
“That said, at a time when anti-Asian hate and violence are on the rise, it’s essential that this committee focuses its vital work on protecting all Americans from the threat posed by the CCP, while avoiding dangerous rhetoric that fuels the types of xenophobia that have endangered members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community,” Krishnamoorthi said.
Krishnamoorthi is also a senior member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He is also the lead Democrat on Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act (ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act), which protects Americans by blocking and prohibiting all transactions from any social media company in, or under the influence of, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and several other foreign adversaries.
In the 117th Congress, he led bipartisan legislation that was signed into law, called the Gathering and Reporting Assessments Yielding Zero Overlooked Nefarious Efforts (GRAY ZONE) Act, which requires the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to produce a National Intelligence Estimate on different aspects of grey zone activities — actions that fall between ordinary statecraft and open warfare – that the PRC employs.
Krishnamoorthi was also the lead Democrats on the bipartisan Transparency for Malign Chinese Investments in Global Port Infrastructure Act, which requires the DNI to study and report to Congress information related to Chinese global investments in port infrastructure.