Funding Represents Historic Step to Implement the Gardner-Markey Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA)


Washington, D.C. – U.S. 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, today applauded the passage of the State and Foreign Operations, and Related Programs appropriations bill as a part of the end-of-year spending package, which contained $2.5 billion to implement the Gardner-Markey Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), the comprehensive Asia policy framework signed into law in December 2018, and the Administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS).


Today’s passage of the funding bill and expected signature into law by the President represents the final step in the process to implement the ARIA initiative, which began in 2017 and involved: Eight legislative hearings at the Senate Foreign Relations committee in the 115th Congress and the 116th Congress; unanimous passage by the Senate and the House of Representatives; the President’s signature into law; unanimous endorsement by the Senate Appropriations Committee in September; and today’s endorsement by the full Congress. $2.5 billion for ARIA/IPS represents nearly 5 percent of the entire Fiscal Year 2020 State and Foreign Operations bill, which funds the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the U.S. foreign aid budget. 


“Today is a historic day for U.S. foreign policy and a bad day to be a dictator in Pyongyang, a communist in Beijing, or a human rights abuser in Phnom Penh. What began as an idea at our subcommittee with Senator Markey over two years ago today blossomed into a fully-funded generational U.S. policy framework for the Indo-Pacific region that will ensure the United States remains the pre-eminent Pacific power for generations to come,” said Senator Gardner. “ARIA will allow the U.S. government to speak with one voice to advance our nation’s national security, economic interests, and values in the Indo-Pacific, a region critical to the success of our nation as the pre-eminent global superpower that respects human rights and the rule of law.”


“With this funding, Congress amplifies the message that Senator Gardner and I have been sending since we developed ARIA: the United States is invested in Asia’s success. Our government is now further empowered to advance America’s interests as we witness the spread of authoritarian governance, human rights violations, and aggressive Chinese military modernization in the region. The United States cannot afford to cede leadership as the country that best empowers people across the Indo-Pacific to seek freedom and economic opportunity,” said Senator Markey.




In the 116th and 115th Congress, Gardner and Markey held eight hearings on ARIA in their Subcommittee. The hearing topics included security challenges, economic opportunities, promoting human rights and the rule of law, U.S.-China relations, and Administration views.


115th Congress:

American Leadership in the Asia-Pacific, Part 1: Security Issues

American Leadership in the Asia-Pacific, Part 2: Economic Issues

American Leadership in the Asia Pacific, Part 3: Promoting Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law

American Leadership in the Asia-Pacific, Part 4: View from Beijing

American Leadership In The Asia Pacific, Part 5: The Asia Reassurance Initiative Act


116th Congress:

ARIA in Action, Part 1: Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law

ARIA in Action, Part 2: The Benefits of Economic Diplomacy

ARIA in Action, Part 3: Implementation and Indo-Pacific Strategy


Former U.S Secretary of Defense James Mattis and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo thanked Senator Gardner for his leadership on ARIA in a letter sent June 2018.


The Department of Defense endorsed ARIA in the Administration’s Indo Pacific Strategy Report, stating: “This legislation enshrines a generational whole-of-government policy framework that demonstrates U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and includes initiatives that promote sovereignty, rule of law, democracy, economic engagement, and regional security.”


The Department of State endorsed ARIA in its “A Free and Open Indo-Pacific” report, stating: “The United States Congress demonstrated its support for the priorities of the Indo-Pacific strategy through the passage of the BUILD Act in October 2018 and the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act in December 2018.”


Read the Congressional Research Service Report on ARIA here.

The text of the bill can be found here.

A background paper on ARIA can be found here.


ARIA Timeline:


Senator Gardner Implemented ARIA in the 116th Congress:


ARIA Became Law in the 115th Congress:


ARIA’s Origins in the 114th and 115th Congress:


ARIA in the News:


WSJ: Op-ed: Trump’s Successful Pivot to Asia

The Asia Reassurance Initiative Act is the most comprehensive statement in a generation of America’s regional interests. It authorizes expenditures of $1.5 billion annually through 2023 to enhance U.S. military, diplomatic and economic engagement with East and Southeast Asian allies such as Japan, India, South Korea and Taiwan.


WSJ: Op-ed: China’s Military Escalation

Believe it or not, Congress is also trying to help with the bipartisan Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA). The Senate bill affirms core American alliances with Australia, Japan and South Korea, while calling for deeper military and economic ties with India and Taiwan. It notably encourages regular weapons sales to Taipei.


STRAITS TIMES: Asia Reassurance Initiative Act passed by US Senate will beef up engagement across Indo-Pacific

The legislation in effect lays down a policy framework to support the United States' commitment to a "free and open Indo-Pacific region and the rules-based international order", according to Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who sponsored the Bill.


Roll Call: Senate Eyes Passage of Bill to Check China in Asia-Pacific

The Senate Foreign Relations committee last week unanimously advanced a bipartisan bill from Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., who lead the Asia-Pacific Subcommittee. The measure would authorize more than $1.5 billion in new funds over the next five years for the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and the Pentagon to maintain regional political support for the rules-based international order that the United States has championed over the last 70 years.


FOX NEWS: Sen. Cory Gardner: North Korea is still a threat – Verifiable, irreversible denuclearization must be our goal

More recently, my Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA), signed into law by President Trump on Dec. 31, 2018, unequivocally reaffirms that “it is the policy of the United States that the objective of negotiations with respect to the nuclear and ballistic missile programs of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea be the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of such programs.”


DAILY SIGNAL: Taiwan Remains a Strong US Partner 40 Years After Key Legislation

The April 30 resolution, which “urges the president to explore opportunities to expand and deepen bilateral economic and trade relations with Taiwan,” was submitted by Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and international cybersecurity policy.


THE DIPLOMAT: ARIA: Congress Makes Its Mark on US Asia Policy

The genesis of the United States’ Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (ARIA) was a series of hearings in 2017-18 held by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cyber Security.


DURANGO HERALD: Colorado senator goes from farming to foreign policy adviser

And Gardner wants to helm the formulation of a long-term policy in a region that by 2050 will make up over 50 percent of the global population and gross domestic product, according to an Asian Development Bank report. Three weeks ago, he introduced the “Asia Reassurance Initiative Act” with three other senators to facilitate the creation of a U.S. plan in a region with gaping policy holes.