Polish American Congress Meets in Washington D.C. – July 2015

Polish American Congress Meets in Washington D.C.

The Polish American Congress (PAC) held its annual Council of National Director’s Meeting in Washington, D.C. on July 20-23. More than 60 delegates representing PAC State Divisions and member organizations were in attendance.

The purposes of the meeting were:

  1. To conduct the business of the organization, including hearing officer reports and debating by-law changes,
  2. To meet with high-ranking governmental officials, who presented briefings on the security of Poland and the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), and
  3. To personally meet and discuss with Members of U.S. Congress issues related to Poland’s security in light of the Russian aggression in Ukraine and Poland’s inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

“On the threshold of the 2016 presidential election, PAC leaders and activists came to Washington to learn and to educate in a bipartisan fashion about many of the issues held most dear by American Polonia and by our friends and relatives living in one of the strongest and most vibrant democracies in Europe,” said Frank Spula, PAC president. “We are as one with those of both political parties who maintain that our best years are still ahead of us.”

As Poland has been a strong ally of the United States, PAC members engaged more than 50 Congressmen and U.S. Senators in their offices on July 22 as part of Polonia’s effort to gain assurances for the security of Poland by the U.S. and NATO Alliance – the latter in which Poland has been a member since 1999.

During a conference in the afternoon of July 22, the PAC directors were briefed on the inner workings of the U.S.-Poland relationship by Brittany Boulieu of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kyle Parker and Philip Bednarczyk of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as by H. Martin McDowell, the Deputy Director in the Office for Central Europe in the Bureau for European and Eurasian Affairs at the Department of State

Senator Charles Schumer (NY) addressed the group regarding his strong and continuing support for Poland and Poland’s admission into the VWP. In addition, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH), Congressman Mike Quigley (IL), and Congressman Daniel Lipinski (IL) offered their insights to the PAC regarding these issues. Schumer, Kaptur, and Quigley were recognized with the organization’s highest recognition – the Polish American Congress Medal of Freedom – for their many efforts on behalf of Poland and Polish American community.

On the final day of the meeting, Dr. Michael Carpenter, special advisor to Vice President Biden, addressed the group and among his comments Carpenter unequivocally stated that “the United States will defend Poland and the U.S. will use all of its tools to defend its Allies.” Carpenter’s remarks were followed by those of Mark Koumans, Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, who briefed the group on the details and mechanism of U.S. Visa Waiver Program.

In addition to spending an advocacy day on Capitol Hill, PAC members had the opportunity to visit the Polish Embassy to hear the latest information on Poland’s efforts to ensure its security, as well as to continue to strengthen its economy. Developing ways to increase Polish exports was of particular interest.

The Polish American Congress was established in 1944 and is a national umbrella organization representing more than 10 million Americans of Polish descent and origin. With 28 State Divisions and 18 National Member Organizations, the PAC has a presence nationwide.

For additional information:

Dr. Barbara B. Andersen, Director
National Office, Polish American Congress
202-296-6955 (Office)
202-835-1565 (FAX)

Dr. Mark Pienkos, Polish American Congress
National Vice President for Public Relations
262-325-8039 (Cell)

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