Washington, DC- On Wednesday, September 26th, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously advanced S. 2736, the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act of 2018 (ARIA). This legislation, authored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy along with Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), serves as a generational policy framework to enhance U.S. leadership in the Indo-Pacific region and to demonstrate a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific and the rules-based international order.  


In the 115th Congress, Gardner and Markey held five hearings in their Subcommittee to inform ARIA. The hearing series, titled, “American Leadership in the Asia-Pacific,” included hearings on security challengeseconomic opportunitiespromoting human rights and the rule of lawU.S.-China relations, and Administration views.


“Today’s action is an important step in getting this critical legislation signed into law,” said Senator Gardner. “ARIA provides the United States a whole-of-government, long-term strategy in Asia that advances American national security interests, promotes American businesses and creates jobs through trade opportunities, and projects American values of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The United States has always been -- and will always remain -- a Pacific power, and today’s action proves that the U.S. government can speak with one voice to reassure our allies and to deter our adversaries in the Indo-Pacific region.”


“The rules-based international order is absolutely fundamental to global peace and security,” said Senator Markey. “But Asia, arguably the most consequential region for the United States, faces critical challenges such as nonproliferation, human rights, and respect for democratic values. This legislation would do important work to address challenges in the Indo-Pacific by authorizing much-needed funds for the Department of State and USAID, including to promote democracy, and to strengthen civil society, the rule of law, transparency, and accountability. It would strengthen alliances and partnerships, promote resource conservation, pursue effective arms control and nonproliferation policies, and commit the U.S. government to the full implementation of sanctions on North Korea and its enablers. I thank Senator Gardner for his partnership on this timely and important legislation. I look forward to continuing to work with him and our partners for full Senate passage.”


“I applaud the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of this important bill to create a framework for stronger U.S. policy in the Indo-Pacific region in terms of diplomacy, trade, promotion of human rights, counterterrorism programs, and other important issues,” said Senator Rubio. “With China’s increasingly aggressive rise, it is critical that the United States reaffirm our commitment to securing a free and open Indo-Pacific region through enhanced cooperation with our democratic partners.”


“U.S. relations with our Asian allies, partners, and adversaries will dominate the 21st century, and we need a clear set of strategic policies to bolster our national security and economic interests, framed in the values that define who we are – democratic principles, human rights, and the rule of law. I’m pleased this legislation places such a high premium on those priorities, and also expresses support for the economic and societal rights of women and girls in the region, ” said Senator Cardin. “U.S. foreign policy is always best conducted in a bipartisan fashion, and this legislation and today’s process exemplifies that spirit. I thank my Foreign Relations Committee colleagues frothier support and look forward to the bill’s debate and passage in the Senate.”


Read more on ARIA legislation here.