Gregory Meeks

NY Rep. Gregory Meeks to Become First Black American to Chair House Foreign Affairs Committee

Meeks beat out Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro, head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

In this Feb. 2, 2017, file photo, Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., participates in the House Financial Services Committee meeting to organize for the 115th Congress.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Rep. Gregory Meeks won the approval of his Democratic colleagues Thursday to become the first Black American to chair the House Foreign Affairs Committee, one of the most powerful panels on Capitol Hill.

“We've got to make sure that we get the State Department up and running,” Meeks, D-N.Y., told NBC News.

He said the first thing the committee would do is work with expected incoming secretary of state, Tony Blinken. “We've got to make sure that the morale is returned there and we get our diplomats back in, and things begin to happen again," he said

Meeks won’t be ignoring the past. Under his leadership, the committee will continue recent investigations into the potential abuses of the historically non-partisan agency, but he also intends to build upon the experience to ensure a better future for U.S. diplomats.

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