This week, the U.S. House passed U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat‘s, D-NY, “Caribbean Basin Security Initiative Authorization Act.”
The bill authorizes almost $75 million a year for the next five years “to improve security cooperation with Caribbean nations and combat illicit drug trafficking, support justice sector reform and strengthen the rule of law, and address instability caused by natural disasters.
“This bill is vital to combatting drug trafficking, promoting good governance and independent justice sectors, and empowering civil society in the Caribbean,” said Espaillat when the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the bill in October. “Too often the Caribbean is ignored, and we must correct this by deepening our partnerships and cooperation with some of our closest allies. Working together, we can help increase citizen security, build resilience to natural disasters caused by climate change, and improve strategies to reduce illegal narcotics trafficking.”
U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., and Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., co-sponsored the bill.
The House passed the bill on a 340-86 vote as seven Democrats and 79 Republicans opposed it.
Most of the Florida delegation backed the bill including every Democrat from the Sunshine State. Republicans in the Florida delegation were more divided. Florida Republicans U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Diaz-Balart, Neal Dunn, Matt Gaetz, Carlos Gimenez, Brian Mast, John Rutherford, Salazar and Michael Waltz voted for the bill. Florida Republicans U.S. Kat Cammack, Byron Donalds, Scott Franklin, Bill Posey and Greg Steube voted against the bill. U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., was one of the three House members who did not vote on the bill.
“Many Floridians maintain close ties with loved ones across the Caribbean – or spend a significant amount of time there themselves. It is part of what makes Florida such a great place to call home,” said U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., in support of the bill. “However, our closest neighbors face significant threats to their safety, including from severe weather, China, and socialist and communist dictators – threats we also face here at our shores. This bill will boost security partnerships with some of our closest neighbors so we can work together to confront these threats head on.”
The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate.