CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Monday, June 13, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4939, United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act of 2016, as amended, under suspension of the rules. The bill was introduced on April 14, 2016, by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, which ordered the bill reported by Unanimous Consent on April 20, 2016.
H.R. 4939 requires the Secretary of State, in coordination with the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Aid, to submit a multi-year strategy for U.S. engagement with the Caribbean region to Congress no later than 180 days after enactment. This strategy would in part focus on improving citizen security, reducing trafficking of illicit drugs, strengthening the rule of law and promoting greater economic development.
The Secretary of State shall provide annual congressional briefings which review the State Department’s strategy. Additionally, no later than one year after enactment, the President shall provide Congress a report on the progress made toward implementing this strategy and the Comptroller General of the United States shall submit a report to Congress evaluating the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative.
Geographic proximity has ensured strong linkages between the United States and Caribbean region, with diverse U.S. interests, including economic, political, and security concerns. The Caribbean region has made significant advances over the past three decades in terms of both political and economic development. Despite significant improvements in political rights and civil liberties, several countries in the region still face considerable challenges. In a number of countries, weaknesses remain in the state’s ability to deliver public services, ensure accountability and transparency, advance the rule of law, and ensure citizen safety and security.
According to the bill sponsor, “While they are sometimes overlooked, the countries of the Caribbean are profoundly important to the United States, and particularly to the many Caribbean-American citizens in the United States. With so many crises around the globe that demand U.S. attention, we can’t lose sight of our long-term interests closer to home but should instead strengthen and expand ties with our Caribbean neighbors. This legislation makes it clear that Congress will prioritize U.S.–Caribbean relations for many years to come.”
 See CRS Report, “Latin America and the Caribbean: Key Issues for the 114th Congress,” January 20, 2016
 See Press Release, “Engel & Ros-Lehtinen Introduce U.S. Caribbean Strategic Engagement Legislation,” April 15, 2016.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that there would be no cost to implement most of the bill’s requirements because they are already being met. However, CBO estimates that implementing the reporting requirements would cost less than $500,000 over the 2017-2021 period; such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply because enacting H.R. 4939 would not affect direct spending or revenues. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4939 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
For questions about amendments or further information on the bill, contact Molly Newell with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 2-1374.