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Joint Baltic National American Committee reports:

The recent midterm elections may have dramatically altered the political composition of both the U.S. House and Senate, but the Baltic caucuses in both chambers have managed to remain largely intact. The Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus, which consisted of 11 Senators prior to the November 2 elections, stands to lose only two members – Senator George Voinovich (R-OH), who is retiring, and Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT), who lost the race for the Republican Senatorial nomination at his party’s convention earlier this year.

Turnover in the House of Representatives’ Baltic Caucus is comparable to that of the Senate, with 57 of 63 House caucus members set to retain their seats in January. Of the six departing members, three are retiring – Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers (R-MI), and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) have all decided not to seek reelection. Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI) lost her district’s Democratic primary in August 2010, while Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) relinquished his congressional seat in an unsuccessful bid for Michigan’s gubernatorial position earlier this year.

One of the newest House Baltic Caucus members, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), was nearly unseated in his bid for a second term. Final election results showed Connolly maintaining a narrow 920-vote lead over Republican challenger Keith Fimian out of more than 226,000 total ballots cast.

The sixth departure from the House Baltic caucus could actually serve to bolster Baltic interests as Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO) has been elected Missouri’s newest Senator. Should Blunt join the Senate Baltic Caucus upon transitioning from the House to the Senate, we hope that he would be willing to assume a leadership position in the Senate caucus.

While the majority of incoming legislators champion domestic issues over any sort of foreign policy involvement, several new members of Congress still show potential for future caucus membership. A wide range of newly elected leaders have expressed support for aiding legal immigrants, for strengthening America’s ties with democratic allies abroad, and for promoting human rights and freedom from oppression the world over. It is imperative to reach out to Congress’ newest members in hopes of securing Baltic allies, for doing so is the only way to ensure that Baltic issues retain their relevance among policymakers today.

For more information:

November 10, 2010

-The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. a liaison between Lithuanian American Council, American Latvian Association and Estonian American National Council-