Representative Gregory Meeks on Thursday won the approval of his Democratic colleagues to be the first Black American to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of the strongest bodies on Capitol Hill.
“We need to ensure that the State Department becomes operational,” Meeks, DN.Y., told NBC News.
He said the committee’s first thing would be to work with the expected incoming Secretary of State, Tony Blinken. “We need to ensure that morale returns there and we bring our diplomats back and things happen again,” he said.
Meeks will not ignore the past. Under his leadership, the committee will continue recent investigations into possible abuses by the historically impartial agency, but will also build on experience to secure a better future for U.S. diplomats.
“How can you assure our diplomats that this won’t happen again if we don’t investigate what happened?” said Meeks, adding that this includes an investigation into the actions of the Trump government and, in particular, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“It hurt us in the eyes of our allies and other people and made us vulnerable to those who are our opponents,” he said. “We can never get into this situation again like the United States.”
In a race focused on race, seniority and the future of the Democratic Party, Meeks beat Texas MP Joaquin Castro, the leader of Congress in Spain, and served four seats to Meek’s eleven.
Castro thanked his colleagues for supporting their idea and said he “looks forward to working with President Meeks, particularly on our common goals, such as promoting diversity in the U.S. State Department.”
The outgoing President, Representative Eliot Engel, DN.Y., also congratulated.