Rep. Torres, Lawler want special envoy


U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres and fellow Rep. Mike Lawler have introduced bipartisan legislation to establish a new special envoy position dedicated to advancing the Abraham Accords — the landmark 2020 U.S.-brokered normalization agreements between Israel and Arab countries in the Middle East.

“The Abraham Accords have given birth to a new Middle East, which is unfolding in real time,” said Rep. Torres. “However, these breakthrough diplomatic agreements cannot be allowed to wither away due to bureaucratic neglect or negligence.

“Regardless of the administration, too often we see progress muddled by bureaucracy in which many people have power but there is no actual responsibility. There must be a clear delineation of power coming from within the federal government such as an ambassador-level special envoy position because the Abraham Accords are so monumental.”

Lawler concurred as he cited the improvement in relations over in the Middle East.

“The diplomatic impact of the Abraham Accords has been incredible to watch, as relations between Israel and Arab nations in the Middle East have improved dramatically from where they once were,” said Rep. Lawler. “There is still room for improvement, though, and I truly believe that establishing a new special envoy position in the Department of State will lead to  a safer and more prosperous future for Israel and all nations in the Middle East.”

The individual, who would be appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and report directly to the Secretary of State, would be required to have high-level diplomatic experience and be knowledgeable about Islamic and Jewish worlds, economies, securities, and human rights. 

The legislation has been endorsed by the American Jewish Committee.

“American Jewish Committee, which has worked for three decades to encourage greater cooperation  across the Middle East and North Africa, has been proud to support the Abraham Accords,” said Jason  Isaacson, chief policy and political affairs officer of American Jewish Committee.

Speaker Adams: Let’s fix housing, pre-K, poverty

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams has announced several proposals, including those that would increase development, preserve affordable housing, advance guaranteed income programs for the poor and fix the city’s pre-K system.

“New Yorkers need access to economic opportunity through work or entrepreneurship, affordable housing, educational pathways to advancement, and community investments that keep us healthy and safe,” Adams said in her State of the City address March 8.

“We need to deliver these fundamentals: economic mobility, housing and healthier and safer neighborhoods.”

Some of her proposals focus on safeguarding public housing by combining all the existing city, state and federal financing tools within a new NYCHA building to provide new Section 9 units for existing public housing residents. She also calls for creating free year-round public pool access and expanding half-price rides on buses, subways and Access-A-Ride to lower income residents.

Her proposals also include expanding CUNY Reconnect and investment in CUNY to make more city residents eligible.

Adams said she is aware the budgets the city council agrees to with Mayor Eric Adams have to be on the same page, budget-wise.

“Our budgets must match — investing in early childhood education programs like 3-K; our libraries as neighborhood resource hubs, our world-class CUNY institutions as centers of opportunity, and our city agencies and its workers who deliver essential services to our communities,” she said.

“New Yorkers are the City’s greatest assets, and we must invest in them.”



Ritchie Torres, Mike Lawler, special envoy, Middle East, Abraham Accords, American Jewish Committee, Adrienne Adams, State of the City, pre-K, poverty, housing, CUNY, education