Bill to Limit Russian Chinese Influence in Latin America from Marco Rubio, Bob Menendez Moving in Senate

This week, U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., were able to get their bill to improve “bilateral and multilateral security cooperation in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as a push to disrupt and counter illicit narcotics trafficking” and “enhance U.S. engagement with the region at a time when the destabilizing impact of authoritarian regimes, and transnational criminal organizations, in addition to the malign activities of state actors like China and Russia, pose risks to U.S. national security” through a key committee.

Rubio introduced the “Western Hemisphere Security Strategy Act” with Menendez, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as a co-sponsor back in February. Rubio sits on the committee and is the top Republican on the U.S. Senate Western Hemisphere Subcommittee.

“There is no greater threat in our region than the growing meddling of Russia and China in Latin America and the Caribbean,” Rubio said. “The United States must be a reliable leader and partner to like-minded countries in our region. This bipartisan bill seeks to foster and improve our security cooperation with democracies in our hemisphere as well as facilitate trade in order to deter malign actors from coercing countries in our own backyard.”

“Democracies in the Western Hemisphere are resilient and united in facing the security challenges posed by the destabilizing impacts of dictatorships and the malign influence of foreign states. It is imperative for the United States to be strategic and proactive in strengthening security partnerships with democracies throughout the Americas,” Menendez said. “This bill recognizes the geopolitical significance of Latin America and the Caribbean and ensures that the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense are engaging with our partner countries in the region to advance the vital national interests of the United States.”

Since then, U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., and U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., joined on as co-sponsors. Kaine threw his support behind the proposal earlier in the month.

This week, the Foreign Relations Committee key approved the bill, sending it to the Senate floor.
“Adversaries like Beijing and Moscow continue to expand their influence and presence in our region. The resulting rise in anti-American dictators has devastating consequences for the entire hemisphere. Crime, drugs, illegal immigration, and human smuggling are skyrocketing. The risk cannot be understated, and the United States must work with fellow democracies in the region to prevent further destabilization,” Rubio said after the vote.

“I am very proud to see the Senate Foreign Relations Committee come together to approve this common sense legislation in recognition of the significant fraying of democratic consensus in the Americas. As destabilizing dictatorships and foreign states’ malign influence continue to pose significant challenges to our country and our hemisphere, this legislation represents another important step forward in helping restore the defense of democracy as a central pillar of U.S. foreign policy,” said Menendez.

There is no companion bill over in the U.S. House.

Kevin Derby
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