The decision by Rep. Ed Royce, R-CA, not to seek reelection is a huge loss for India and Indian Americans. The House Foreign Relations Committee chairman, a member of Congress since 1993, has been an unwavering friend of India throughout his congressional tenure.
Royce announced his retirement via Twitter on January 8, a decision that caught many Republicans by surprise. Even though he did not cite any reason for the retirement, many analysts point to an expected unfriendly political climate during the midterm in November as the reason for the California Republican’s decision to call it a day. He’s the 35th Republican to announce retirement from Congress during the current term.
For whatever reason he’s ending his congressional career, Royce’s absence would be a loss for India and Indian Americans.
He was one of the founders of the House India caucus, which was started with just 8 members. Today, it’s one of the largest country-specific caucuses in US Congress, with more than 180 members. He served as co-chair of the caucus multiple times.
READ: Congressman Ed Royce leads bipartisan delegation to India (March 9, 2015)
The congressman, who has been a member of the House Foreign Relations Committee since his first term, was played a huge role in the passage of the US-India civil nuclear deal, which was signed in 2008. He was a floor manager of the bill the House of Representatives.
Throughout his 26-year tenure in House, the Orange County, CA, resident has been a champion of India in US Congress. If fact, whenever there was an India-related issue, it often went through the office of Royce.
Very few in Congress worked harder and longer than Royce to strengthen America’s relations with India. Fellow Republican Rep. Joe Wilson said when he succeeded the Californian as the Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans in 2003: “Chairman Royce provided invaluable leadership and has done so much in strengthening the relationship between the United States and India.”
Royce has also been a great supporter of the Indian American community.
Royce is probably the only member of Congress who has an “Indian Biography” prominently displayed on his official website.
Here’s “Ed’s Indian Biography”:
Royce has been instrumental in strengthening relations between the U.S. and India. Since 1993, Royce has been a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and is currently the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. In the 107th session of Congress, Royce chaired the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans. Starting with only 8 members, Royce helped build the caucus to become one of the largest in the House, with over 180 members.
In the 112th Congress, Royce again assumed co-chairmanship of the caucus, a role he used to address the U.S.-India business relationship and the threat India faces from Islamist extremism. As Chairman of Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee, Mr. Royce held a hearing last September entitled: “U.S.-India Counterterrorism Cooperation: Deepening the Partnership.”
Royce was designated by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert to be an official member of then-President Clinton’s historic delegation to India in 2000. He has traveled several more times to India.
Following the January 2001 earthquake in Gujarat, Royce led a Congressional Delegation to the ravaged area to help. As sister states, Gujarat and California both lie in earthquake prone areas. Royce worked to help the two to share information on early warning systems.
In 2001, Royce led the effort to lift sanctions against India, co-authoring legislation to lift all sanctions and economic restrictions imposed on India under the Clinton Administration. With this groundwork laid, the Administration moved to remove the sanctions on India in 2001.
One of Congress’s experts on India, Royce managed legislation on the House floor in July 2006 to pass the historic U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, beating back several “poison pill” amendments. As Royce said on the House floor: “Like in several other countries, nuclear energy is widely viewed as a critical technology (in India), one central to uplifting hundreds of millions of impoverished Indians.” With his stewardship, the agreement passed and was signed into law.
In November 2008, Royce actively supported a resolution in condemning the horrific terrorist attacks that rocked Mumbai. Commenting on the attacks on the House floor, Royce stated: “What is clear is that Pakistan and South Asia is at a crossroads. Pakistanis have to make the fundamental decision to turn their backs on the culture of jihad. For if they don’t, the future of their country, the region, and security in the world will be in peril.” With Royce’s support, the resolution passed last December.
In the 113th Congress, Royce serves as Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He remains an active member of the India Caucus and he seeks council from the Indian-American community.
A California native, Royce is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton, School of Business Administration. Royce and his wife, Marie, have been married for 28 years.