McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, a Democrat from South Texas, has been appointed to serve as the deputy head of the U.S. delegation to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Parliamentary Assembly (PA), his office announced Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Virginia, leads the bipartisan U.S. delegation to NATO PA, which is comprised of over 250 delegates from 30 NATO countries who provide oversight of NATO operations and act as a conduit between the alliance and legislators of member countries for the organization that is often involved in defense and human rights issues. 

In his role as deputy head, Vela and Connolly will work together closely to “champion” NATO’s mission to promote democracy, he said.

“With the NATO Alliance becoming an increasingly vital forum for discussions among Allied countries, NATO PA will be the conduit for those political discussions to take place and cultivate strong relationships. With adversarial nations searching for opportunities to create contention within the Alliance, the strong relationships among political leaders are more important than ever. I look forward to working with my colleagues to find innovative ways that will strengthen our partnerships and bring NATO towards its 2030 vision,” Vela said in a statement.

Said Connolly of Vela: “He will be an incredible asset to our efforts to promote the Alliance and reinforce our common democratic values and collective security commitment.”

This photo shows a working group of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. (Courtesy Photo)

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly was created in 1955 to allow members to discuss and influence decisions on Alliance security. It is involved in key issues affecting the security of the Euro-Atlantic area, and supports national parliamentary oversight over defense and security, the organization’s website says.

Vela was an ardent supporter and campaigner of President-elect Joe Biden. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee, and the Agriculture Committee where he chairs the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee.