Bill stands up for crucial partnership because President Trump will not


Washington (June 17, 2020) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the East Asia Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Congressman Ami Bera, M.D. (CA-07), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, today announced they will introduce legislation to strengthen the U.S.-Korea Alliance. Named after the enduring motto of the U.S.-South Korea alliance – katchi kapshida – the We Go Together Act reaffirms the importance of the partnership between Washington and Seoul in light of escalating threats from North Korea and China, as well would require a certification from the President before any action to change U.S. policy towards the Mutual Defense Treaty with South Korea.


“America’s alliances must be based on shared values and interests, not profit motive,” said Senator Markey. “This past week alone, the Korean people have read news headlines featuring not only North Korean provocations, but also President Trump’s reckless threats to turn away from South Korea, Japan, and other vital allies. This is jarring to Americans who recognize South Korea as a valuable partner for our security and who welcome South Korea’s leadership on public health, indelible cultural contributions, and support in the fight against racism and bigotry. With this bill, Congress can chart a different course, one that lives up to the history and the promise of our two countries. I thank Congressman Bera for joining me in this effort.”


“The events of recent days remind us how vital our mutual defense treaty is for our two nations,” said Rep. Bera. “It both deters North Korean aggression and ensures regional peace and security. The mutual defense treaty between our two countries was forged in the battles of the Korean War. We should not undermine our national security, nor should we cheapen the sacrifices of the American and Korean citizens and troops who gave their lives for the Alliance by rewriting or abandoning it lightly.


“One of Congress’ most important duties is exercising oversight over foreign affairs. The ‘We Go Together Act’ ensures Congress fulfills that oversight role for the Alliance and sends an important signal to our South Korean allies, our partners- and adversaries- that our commitment to Northeast Asia is unwavering. As Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, and co-chair of the Korea Caucus, I will continue to fight for the Alliance.”


A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.


The We Go Together Act also recognizes the dedication of the Korean national employees who support United States Forces Korea. Many of these Korean employees were furloughed due to an impasse in cost-sharing negotiations during which the Trump administration demanded additional funds from the South Korean government.


President Trump has repeatedly taken steps that undermine the alliance between the U.S. and South Korea – through unreasonable demands, threats to reduce troop numbers without cause, and even by disparaging the Korean film industry. The We Go Together Act explicitly rejects a transactional view of this and all U.S. alliances. It recognizes the sacrifices that Koreans have made alongside the United States since 1945 and details their contributions extending beyond defense.


Specifically, the We Go Together Act would:

  • Make clear a transactional view of the alliance is contrary to the spirit of “we go together,” especially as the pursuit of shared values and interests is as important as ever;
  • Express support for the Korean employees who support U.S. forces and call on the administration to ensure that they do not bear the burden of breakdowns in cost-sharing negotiations;
  • Require, at least 120 days before any presidential action to change U.S. policy with respect to the Mutual Defense Treaty between our countries, a detailed justification for such a change; and
  • Require, at least 120 days before such an action, a certification that the change is in our national interest and that the administration has taken steps to replace any lost benefits, including South Korea’s contributions to countering illegitimate coercion, promoting human rights, protecting the environment, and enforcing UN Security Council resolutions.