December was a wonderful month for the Baltic countries in Congress. In one fell swoop, the Baltic community saw major victories in 5 of the 6 issues tracked on Baltivist.com and 11 of the 19 bills tracked here too. You may have heard of the defense bill that authorized the Space Force or authorized paid family and medical leave for federal workers. Yep, this is that bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
This happened with the signing of S. 1790 (pictured above) on December 20th, 2019. There are too many victories to show in one blog post!
Some major victories include:
- Increase of military funding to Baltic military program by 25%
- Imposition of sanctions on companies building Nord Stream 2
- Creation of program to combat disinformation
- Analysis of the Kremlin’s corruption
Plus, outside of N.D.A.A., December saw the confirmation of Ambassador Gilchrist to be ambassador from the U.S. to Lithuania – a post which was empty for months.
How did we get here?
Passage of all these provisions took efforts to make sure Congress listened to the needs of the Baltic community. There were some outside factors that helped. For example, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas pushed hard for the passage of sanctions for the construction of Nord Stream 2. Sen. Cruz represents Texas, which supplies a lot of natural gas which is transmitted to the Baltics.
But, it also required lobbying by the Baltic embassies to the U.S. and from the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC).
Plus, it took efforts from members of the Baltic community who met with staff from members of Congress during Baltic Advocacy Day in November of 2019 (pictured). Baltivists spoke to staff about Nord Stream 2, military security, fighting corruption, and membership in the Baltic Caucuses.
To learn more about the victories of each subjects, please read the following.
Cheers for the major victory!