This year marks the 41st anniversary of the British American Parliamentary Group (BAPG) International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), an annual exchange that is administered by Meridian International Center, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State. BAPG seeks to strengthen U.S.-UK relations, to enhance the parliamentarians’ knowledge of U.S. government, and to encourage leaders to explore the roles of non-governmental players in the formation of policy. Earlier this month, BAPG had the pleasure of welcoming six British Members of Parliament to the United States: Mr. David Duguid, Mr. Darren Jones, Mr. Damien Moore, Ms. Stephanie Peacock, and Mr. Matt Western.
The week kicked off with a briefing on U.S. federalism at Meridian International Center and meetings with the Government Accountability Office and the Congressional Budget Office. During a reception hosted at the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Ambassador Jennifer Zimdahl Galt, addressed attendees on the importance of cultural exchange and the special relationship between the U.S. and the U.K.
Meridian Fellow Maya Weinberg shadowed Mr. Darren Jones (Labour, Bristol Northwest), and Meridian Fellow Nilaya Knafo shadowed Mr. Damien Moore (Conservative, Southport), as they escorted each parliamentarian to meetings with Members of Congress on Capitol Hill. Mr. Jones met with Representative Ro Khanna (D-CA 17th) to discuss Khanna’s new Internet Bill of Rights, cyber security and diversity in government. Joined by Ms. Peacock (Labour, Barnsly East), Mr. Jones met with Senator John Boozman (R-AK) to discuss immigration and border Security. Additional meetings took place with Representatives Jim Himes (D-CT 4th), Joaquin Castro (D- TX 20th), and Bill Keating (D-MA 9th) on the future of Brexit, elections, and defense in regards to the future of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. MP Matt Western (Labour, Warwick and Leamington) joined Mr. Jones and Ms. Peacock to meet with Representatives Eliot Engle (D-NY 16th) and Henry Cuellar (D-TX 28th).
Mr. Moore described his BAPG experience as one that encourages “leading by learning.” His meetings illustrated the power that the IVLP has in allowing participants to build valuable relationships. After connecting with Congressman David Rouzer (R-NC 7th) to discuss their constituencies in Southport, UK and Southport, NC, Mr. Moore attended a working lunch with Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC 2nd) and the Republican Study Committee. Mr. Moore witnessed a hearing at the Armed Forces Committee with Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX 28th) and met with Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA 5th). Common topics of discussion included agriculture, trade, energy, small businesses, and veterans.
Mr. Moore summarized his Washington experience as a “fantastic opportunity to gain insight into the workings of the U.S. government and of issues of the day. I am confident that I am now able to speak with more clarity and conviction about issues that affect both of our countries.” The day concluded with a congressional dinner at the Capitol Hill Club, before the parliamentarians departed Washington to shadow Congressmen in their districts and to explore Boston, Massachusetts.