109th Congress: Asia-Pacific Policy Outlook
James L. Schoff
Having made small but important gains in the 2004 election, Republicans have a historic opportunity to put their mark upon American foreign policy in the 109th Congress. Their attitudes—as well as those of the other members of Congress—in this area are not uniform, however, and there exist important differences in terms of how lawmakers and the coalitions they form prioritize free trade principles, human rights, and national security concerns. China looms particularly large as a topic in all three of these categories, which divides each party when debating policy trade-offs involving Beijing. Two other similar areas of dispute involve the normalization of military relations with Indonesia and how best to deal with the North Korean nuclear problem. Tensions could also surface in such areas as foreign aid allocation, America’s relationship with the United Nations and related agencies, extending trade promotion authority for the president, and realigning the U.S. military posture overseas—all issues which could have important implications for nations in the Asia-Pacific region. In addition, high on Congress’ agenda early in 2005 will be appropriations to support U.S. and international relief efforts in South and Southeast Asia following the devastating December 2004 earthquake and tsunami; the region’s long-term aid and reconstruction requirements will also be significant, meaning that Congress will be called on to assist the affected countries for many years to come. This report seeks to analyze how Congress views, and would be likely to respond to, these and other Asia-Pacific policy issues.