Gardner, Cardin, Menendez Amendment Creates Accountability on Asia “Pivot”

Washington, DC – Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) announced today that they secured inclusion of an amendment to the Senate budget providing for an independent review of US government resources expended to support the Administration’s “Asia pivot”, or “Asia rebalance”, policy. The “Asia pivot” policy, announced by President Obama in 2011, pledged to employ a “whole-of-government” approach to substantially increase US engagement in the Asia-Pacific region.

The amendment was included in the budget with the unanimous consent of all Senators. Senator Gardner and Senator Cardin are the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, and Senator Menendez is the Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Committee.

The amendment would require an independent agency, such as the Government Accountability Office, to provide a detailed account of US government spending supporting the Asia “pivot” policy and to offer recommendations on more efficiently allocating resources, establishing benchmarks, and ensuring the policy achieves its intended objectives. Additionally, this independent report would assess the Administration’s response to recommendations outlined by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the 113th Congress, which stated that “the Administration can improve the effectiveness and sustainability of the rebalance policy by increasing civilian engagement, strengthening diplomatic partnerships, and empowering US businesses.”

“I agree with the intent of the ‘Asia pivot’ policy, but I want to ensure that our policy goals can be realized,” Gardner said. “It’s important that the American people have a full accounting of the resources that have been devoted to this important policy and whether they have been prioritized effectively. The East-Asia Pacific region comprises 35 countries and nearly a third of the world’s population, and we must ensure that our policy in the region strengthens existing friendships and builds new partnerships that will be critical to US national security for generations to come.”

“The U.S. must continue to strengthen our enduring commitment to engage Asia’s growing powers,” Cardin said. The high number of US activities we already have with our partners and allies in the region prove that, in many respects, we have already ‘rebalanced,’ said Senator Cardin. “On behalf of the American taxpayers, we should have an independent study to ensure that the US government is investing its precious resources in the most effective way possible. The Asia-Pacific region is a strategic long-term priority for America; we cannot allow recent crises elsewhere to distract us from continuing to ramp up our engagement.”

“The rebalance to the Asia-Pacific is one of the most strategically farsighted and significant policies being pursued by the Obama Administration,” Menendez said. “Given the importance of the Asia-Pacific region to U.S. security and prosperity, it is an approach that enjoys broad bipartisan support. But its success will rise or fall on our ability to effectively and efficiently marshal resources across the entirety of the United States Government - not just for military activities, but for diplomacy, communication, cultural engagement and economic statecraft, too. This Amendment helps assure that we have the tools, focus, and dedication necessary to resource the rebalance appropriately.”