The Congressional Caucus on Bosnia (Bosnian Caucus), co-chaired by Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO), saw the loss of five members in the election of 2012. The Bosnian Caucus will now have 26 members from both political parties. The key loss comes with the departure of the Bosnian Caucus co-chair, Congressman Russ Carnahan, who lost his seat in the Democratic primary election to Congressman Lacy Clay (D-MO) in the 1st Congressional District of Missouri. “This is a huge loss for the Bosnian American community and his departure from the U.S. Congress has implications on the representation of the issues important to Bosnian Americans. He was a great representative and he will be missed. We hope that Congressman Clay will be a strong supporter of issues important to BiH and the Bosnian American community and we look forward to working with him” said Patrick McCarthy, ACBH Director of Development and a St. Louis native.As a member of the Bosnian Caucus, Congressman Carnahan co-sponsored, and helped pass H.Res. 199, a resolution recognizing the 10 year anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide; and H.Res. 171, a resolution on the need for constitutional reform in BiH and the importance of sustained U.S. engagement in partnership with the EU in BiH.
President Barack Obama was re-elected for a second term following the recent election and although he proposed a 9.2% budget cut in foreign aid to BiH in FY 2012, he did help create the very first Atrocities Prevention Board which works to protect innocent men, women and children from genocide across the world – an effort President Obama called “a core national security interest and a moral responsibility of the United States.”
In addition, the departure of Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs (HCFA) following his loss to Congressman Brad Sherman (D-CA) will shake up the Democratic leadership at HCFA. Congressman Berman made significant contributions in bringing awareness to the issues facing BiH from making Congressional statements to being the sponsor of H.Res. 171 which requested that the U.S. appoint a Special Envoy to the Balkans.
The next three Democrats in order of seniority are Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Eni Faleomavaega (D-Samoa), and Congressman Sherman (D-CA) however according to various sources, it is speculated that Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), a member of the Bosnian Caucus may take the place of Congressman Berman. It is important to note that Congressman Sherman was a co-sponsor of H.Res. 200 in 2001, in which the House called for continued arrest and transfer of indicted war criminals throughout the Balkans and encouraged the release of innocent political prisoners held in Serbian prisons.
ACBH looks forward to working with the current Administration and all members of the 113th Congress on issues related to BiH and advocating for a united, multiethnic and democratic BiH.