Committee assignments are being announced as the new 117th Congress begins sittings, and among the first few so far are important assignments for the Indian-American lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington State, the first and only Indian-American woman elected to the lower house, has been reassigned to the powerful House Budget Committee.
Jayapal, a champion of immigration, led Democrats in introducing the “Roadman to Freedom” resolution, which she has described as “a visionary north star for immigration reform” according to a press release from her office Jan. 27, 2020.
“While establishing a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million people, this progressive vision signals a strong commitment to transforming the immigration system so it is humane, fair, equitable, and focused on respect, dignity, and family unity,” the press release says.
“As a lifelong immigrant rights organizer who created the largest immigrant rights organization in Washington state before becoming one of only 14 naturalized citizens serving in Congress today, I know that we must do far more than simply reverse the harmful, xenophobic policies of the Trump Administration,” Jayapal is quoted saying in the press release. “Our immigration system has been broken for decades, and with a new president in office, we must finally reform it in a humane way that focuses on respect, dignity, family unity and real opportunity for all immigrants,” she added noting that she will be working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus to introduce the Roadmap to Freedom.
On Jan. 26, 2021, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, was appointed to serve on the Select Committee on the Coronivirus Crisis which was established to provide oversight of the federal COVID-19 pandemic response.
The Select Subcommittee is modeled after then Senator Harry Truman’s Special Committee to Investigate the National Defense Program.
“I am honored to join Chairman Clyburn (D-Georgia) and our colleagues on this panel to provide vital oversight of the federal coronavirus response to protect the health and safety of the American people as we defeat the pandemic and rebuild our economy,” said Rep. Krishnamoorthi. “I look forward to working with members of both parties as we ensure that the trillions of dollars in taxpayer funds dedicated to our country’s response to this pandemic and its economic impacts are used as efficiently, transparently, and effectively as possible,” he added.
The Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis was established by the House of Representatives on April 23, 2020 and entrusted with the responsibility of providing oversight of numerous aspect of the crisis including implementation of the plan of action, relief programs, any waste or fraud, preparedness, economic impact of the pandemic etc.
Congressman Ami Bera, D-California, was named chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, Central Asia, and Nonproliferation for the 117th Congress.
Dr. Bera is the first Indian-American elected since 1957 when Dalip Singh Saund, also of California, was elected to the House of Representatives.
Saying he was honored to be named chair of the subcommittee, Bera noted, “Asia continues to be the most consequential region for American foreign policy, as our economy and national security are intrinsically linked to this region.”
Bera was also selected to serve on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human Rights. He also serves as Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Korea and previously chaired the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans.
Congressman Ro Khanna, D-California, has been named a member of the House Agriculture Committee in the 117th Congress.
Rep. Khanna is the vice chair of the Congressional Caucus for India and Indian-Americans.
Elected in 2016, Rep. Khanna has served on some of the most important committees in Congress including the powerful House Oversight and Reform, Armed Services, and Budget committees.
He serves as Deputy Whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Numerous other Committees and Subcommittee memberships have yet to be announced.