EANC President Marju Rink-Abel issued a letter thanking members of last month’s Congressional Delegation (CODEL) trip that included a stop in Tallinn. Washington, DC Director Karin Shuey, along with colleagues from the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), delivered the letters in meetings with staffers in the Representatives’ offices. Eight bipartisan representatives, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, made the trip in the last week of April. They also made visits to the United Kingdom, Norway, and Poland. The Members of Congress (MoC) joining Speaker Ryan were: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL), Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) and Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE).
The CODEL had meetings with President Kersti Kaljulaid, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, Foreign Minister Sven Mikser, and members of Parliament. They also met with American soldiers and Marines currently stationed in Estonia in support of NATO’s response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Speaker Ryan’s office released a summary of their visit, which is available at www.speaker.gov > Menu > search for Estonia.
EANC and JBANC have so far met with six of the eight offices that participated in the trip, generally with the Representatives’ legislative assistants handling foreign affairs. While some staffers were better versed than others on issues affecting Estonia, all expressed their MoC’s support for NATO, regional stability and continued military funding and engagement. They recognized the threat posed by Russia’s aggressive behavior and the important message of solidarity this visit represented. EANC and JBANC emphasized European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) funding and continued Foreign Military Financing as priorities for U.S.-Estonian security cooperation. Discussions indicated that both have strong bipartisan support and would likely continue at current or even increased levels. Three bills supporting Ukraine and sanctions against Russia were also highlighted. Finally, since Congressm
an Meeks was the only House Baltic Caucus (HBC) member on the trip, the others were invited to continue their support for Estonia and the Baltics by joining the caucus.
EANC looks forward to delivering the remaining letters in the coming weeks, forging stronger relationships with current HBC members, and developing new relationships as the caucus grows. Eleven new members have already joined since the 215th Congress convened in January, bringing HBC membership to 64. You can check the list for your representative’s name at housebalticcaucus.webs.com/members. EANC’s work with JBANC will continue to keep our representatives in both chambers of Congress aware of issues important to Estonia and to keep our constituents informed on relevant news from the Hill.