Congressman Alan Lowenthal, who represents portions of Long Beach, announced he and Rep. Steve Chabot have created a bipartisan Congressional Cambodia Caucus at the Capitol, to “bring together Members of Congress interested in both Cambodia’s difficult political situation and the broader U.S. relationship” with the country.
Lowenthal and Chabot will serve as co-chairs of the new caucus—Lowenthal’s significant role likely due to the fact that his district holds the largest population of Cambodians outside of Cambodia.
“As the representative of so many Cambodian Americans, many of whom still have deep connections to Cambodia, I feel it is critical that Congress do everything it can to ensure that the United States continues to serve as a positive influence on Cambodia as it works to fully integrate into the international community,” Lowenthal said in a statement.
“A strong U.S.-Cambodia relationship is vital to the future of freedom and democracy in Southeast Asia,” said Chabot, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement. “Cambodia is fast becoming an important economic partner to the United States and it is imperative that we continue to foster Cambodia’s economic growth while promoting our core values like respect for human rights and rule of law.”
According to a release issued by Lowenthal’s office, Lowenthal and Chabot met on March 17 with U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia Bill Heidt to receive an update on U.S. relations with the country.
Heidt detailed U.S. interactions with Cambodia, specifically regarding conversations the U.S. has had with the country surrounding citizens’ democratic freedoms and freedom of speech. Heidt appeared optimistic about the prospect of Cambodia’s young and growing population, according to the release.
The release did not detail any information regarding the issue of deportations within the Cambodian-American community, however.
“The Cambodian Caucus offers a real opportunity for Congress and members of the public to vigorously discuss a full range of issues important to Cambodia’s development, and it will strengthen our bilateral relationship,” Congressman Lowenthal said.