Ro Khanna, Mike Waltz elected co-chairs of House India caucus
(L-R) Ro Khanna (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) and Mike Waltz (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
Indian American Democratic lawmaker Ro Khanna and his Republican House colleague Mike Waltz have been chosen as co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans in the 118th Congress.
India Caucus is the largest country-specific bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in the House of Representatives that is committed to strengthening the relationship between the two largest democratic countries of the world.
Khanna, 46, is the second Indian American to be elected as co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans since it was established in 1993.
Congressman Ami Bera served as its co-chair during the 115th Congress (2015-2016). At that time, he was the only Indian American serving in the Congress. Now the number has increased to five: DR Ami Bera, Ro Khanna, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Pramila Jayapal, and Shri Thanedar.
“I am honoured to chair the India caucus and will look forward to involving the national Indian American diaspora in helping strengthen the US India relationship,” Khanna told the Press Trust of India.
The Indian American represents the 17th Congressional District of California. Last November he was elected for the fourth consecutive term.
First reported by NBC News, Congressman Andy Barr and Marc Veasey will serve as vice co-chairs. Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-32), who formerly served as chair, will serve as chair emeritus, a media release said.
In the new Congress, the members will continue working to strengthen partnerships between policy makers and the Indian American diaspora communities and reduce India’s reliance on Russian defence systems.
“A strong relationship with India is critical for our economy and national security. It is an honour to serve alongside my colleague Rep. Waltz as co-chair of the India Caucus,” Khanna said.
“Serving in this role is especially meaningful to me as one of the first Indian Americans to lead the caucus as well as the only representative of an Asian American majority district in the continental United States,” he said.
Congressman Waltz said that India is the world’s largest democracy and an important strategic partner for the United States.
“That’s why I’m honored to serve as the Co-Chair of the House India Caucus this Congress to ensure we continue this partnership, strengthen political, economic, and security ties between our two countries, and protect democracies in Asia and worldwide,” he said.
Congressman Barr said strengthening bilateral relations via trade and security as well as cooperation through the Quad, presents many opportunities to advance the two countries’ common interests. In an interview to NBC News, Khanna said the Indian American diaspora can play an important role in helping strengthen the US-India partnership.
“I think this is a historic moment for our community. I think we’re really emerging and coming into our own as a strong voice,” said the Congressman. Khanna told NBC that he is going to try to make the Caucus not just about India-US, but also the Indian American community and highlighting the contributions of that community.
“I think being Indian America and being part of the community, knowing so many of the community leaders, knowing the passions and interests of young people, I’ll be able to do that,” he said.
“Khanna says taking on this greater role in the India Caucus feels like the culmination of generations of work in the public sphere. His grandfather Amarnath Vidyalankar spent his life fighting for India’s independence from British rule, even spending a few years in jail for the cause. Vidyalankar became a member of India’s first Parliament after independence in 1947,” NBC news reported.
Congressman Sherman, who now takes the role of chair emeritus, said that he has long advocated for a strong US-India relationship and has worked to highlight the enormous contributions Indian Americans have made in this country.
“There is no one more fitting that I could pass the torch of chairing this important Caucus to than Congressman Ro Khanna, along with Congressman Mike Waltz as Co-Chair – both stalwart advocates for the US-India relationship,” he said.
“Moreover, I’m encouraged by our Vice Co-Chairs, Congressman Andy Barr and Marc Veasey, who will bring to the Caucus a stellar record of impassioned advocacy for the US-India partnership. I will continue on as chair emeritus and look forward to the work ahead of building upon this vital partnership and securing future prosperity between the United States, the world’s oldest continuous democracy, and India, the world’s largest democracy,” Sherman said.