POLITICAL ARENA

Engel takes over Foreign Affairs

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As expected with the Democratic takeover of the U.S. House, Rep. Eliot Engel has been elected the new chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He now becomes the top Democratic voice on foreign affairs in Congress.

“Diplomacy and development are critical to our national security,” Engel said in a statement. “These efforts help advance our interests, strengthen friendships and alliances, and stop conflicts before they start. We must do all we can to support the public servants carrying out this work, including making an annual State Department authorization a central part of the committee’s activity.”

Engel wants to strengthen the United States’ position in NATO — something that has not been the public position of President Trump. He also wants to bring a new focus to issues that include climate change and migration.

“Thorough and fair oversight is also an essential part of Congress’s role as a co-equal branch of government,” Engel said. “In the days ahead, the committee will push the administration for answers about the way it has crafted policy dealing with some of the world’s most important hotspots — from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, to Venezuela, to Syria, to Russia, to North Korea.

“I’m confident the committee can do this work in a way that puts politics to the side and gets to the facts about matters pivotal to our security.”

 

James joins other AGs to defend Obamacare

Not many people were talking about the December federal court decision that ruled the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional, but new attorney general Letitia James is ready to act.

She has joined a coalition of 17 attorneys general from around the country to defend the act, appealing the Texas decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

“Health care is a right, not a privilege,” James said, in a release.

“This litigation that seeks to strip away the health care that millions of Americans depend on is irresponsible and harmful. New York will continue to work with this coalition to safeguard access to health care for all Americans.”

 

Biaggi to chair ethics committee

New state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi already has an assignment in Albany. She’ll chair the ethics committee, infamous for the fact that — at least in the past — it hasn’t met very often.

In fact, a meeting in October 2017 made the news because it was the first time the committee had actually gotten together in eight years.

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