SFRC Committee Advances Romney ASEAN Legislation

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations (SFRC) Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, joined Senators Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Jim Risch (R-ID), Chairman and Ranking Member of SFRC, and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in applauding the Committee’s passage of their Providing Appropriate Recognition and Treatment Needed to Enhance Relations (PARTNER) with ASEAN Act, bipartisan legislation to strengthen relations between the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

By extending to ASEAN treatment as an international organization, the PARTNER with ASEAN Act would afford ASEAN secretariat personnel the same privileges and immunities in the United States as diplomats associated with other multilateral missions, paving the way for the creation of a permanent ASEAN U.S. mission.

“The U.S. must be present in Southeast Asia in order to effectively compete with China—and this means we must be working with our ASEAN partners to promote a free, open, and resilient Indo-Pacific region,” said Senator Romney. “I’m pleased to see our bipartisan legislation, which reaffirms the United States’ commitment to our friends in Southeast Asia through ASEAN, pass out of committee, and hope it is brought before the full Senate without delay.”

“I am immensely proud to bear witness to the Committee’s passage of our PARTNER with ASEAN Act—an important step forward as the United States seeks to shore up cooperation with Southeast Asian partners and bolster our strong, reliable, and engaged presence in the Indo-Pacific,” Chairman Menendez said. “ASEAN continues to be a major player in one of the most dynamic regions of the world, and in the face of today’s mounting challenges to mutual prosperity, the U.S.-ASEAN partnership is more important than ever. As our bipartisan legislation moves to the Senate Floor, I remain deeply committed to work to secure its passage, and to continuing to build on this important relationship.”

“The United States must put greater focus on Southeast Asia, especially through trade, investment, and other economic engagement, to combat countries like China that are increasingly engaging in predatory economic behavior,” said Ranking Member Risch. “Today’s committee passage of the PARTNER with ASEAN Act will help us deepen U.S. ties with our ASEAN partners. I hope the Biden Administration will use the opportunities this bill creates to expand our commercial and economic linkages with these important partners.”

“The United States and ASEAN have long benefitted from working together diplomatically, economically, culturally and more,” said Senator Duckworth. “With this bipartisan legislation, we’re reaffirming and strengthening this longstanding partnership while also providing the organization with the appropriate diplomatic immunities they deserve as we work together to ensure the Indo-Pacific region is as strong as it can be. I’m glad it passed out of Committee today and hope we can get it to President Biden’s desk quickly.”

Find a copy of the legislation here.