Sharing common democratic values and similar constitutions, Switzerland and the United States have long been recognized as Sister Republics. Building on their strong friendship and the fact that there are one million Americans with Swiss heritage in the United States, it is only fitting to strengthen the relationship between the legislative branches of the two countries (U.S. Congress and Swiss Federal Assembly).
The Friends of Switzerland Caucus was officially launched by Rep. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) at the beginning of the 108th Congress in January 2003. Today, the Caucus in the House has 48 members and counting. In 2011, the Caucus was also expanded to include the Senate. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) and now Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) are the two Senate Co-Chairs. The Caucus in the Senate started out with 6 members.
Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who have joined the Caucus mainly come from districts with significant Swiss business investments or with communities rich in Swiss heritage. Some of them also have personal Swiss roots.
In 2001, Swiss parliamentarians officially launched the Parliamentary Association Switzerland-USA. Members represent all major political parties and both chambers of the Parliament: the Council of States and the National Council.
The Friends of Switzerland Caucus and the Parliamentary Association Switzerland-USA aim to encourage and strengthen Swiss-American relations by creating more opportunities for political dialogue between the legislators of both countries. Swiss parliamentarians and their U.S. counterparts are especially interested in working visits and other joint activities in the U.S. to discuss issues of mutual concern.
Ideally once a year, the two parliamentarian groups meet to foster and strengthen Swiss-U.S. relations through political dialogue. Legislators of both countries exchange views on issues of mutual concern which often include discussions on democracy and political culture.