A group of U.S. ambassadors stationed in the Indo-Pacific region is urging congressional leaders to secure passage of legislation providing assistance to Ukraine, Israel and allies in the Pacific, saying America’s credibility with its strategic partners is on the line.
“Governments are watching what we do at this pivotal moment in history — a time when decisions that we take now will have lasting impacts for years to come,” said the letter from nine diplomats sent to Capitol Hill on Monday. “They want to see that when the chips are down, the United States will be there for our allies and partners.”
The letter is somewhat unusual for a diplomatic corps that is usually reluctant to engage in such fights publicly. But the ambassadors, who met recently at a regional conference, said that the importance of the aid and the signals that failure would send warranted the appeal.
A $118 billion emergency national security spending package, which pairs aid for American allies to strict new border policies demanded by Republicans, is teetering on the brink of collapse in Congress ahead of a test vote scheduled for Wednesday in the Senate.
“None of us has ever signed a letter quite like this one,” said the message to the four top leaders of Congress from the mix of career diplomats and those with more political backgrounds. “But given the gravity of this historical moment, we believe it is imperative to share with you our direct and honest assessment as you consider the supplemental funding request, which we view as essential.”
The ambassadors signing the letter were Philip Goldberg of South Korea, Rahm Emanuel of Japan, Caroline Kennedy of Australia, MaryKay Carlson of the Philippines, Eric Garcetti of India, Nicholas Burns of China, Tom Udall of New Zealand, Edgard Kagan of Malaysia and Marc Knapper of Vietnam.
“Some of the ambassadors signing this letter are former members of Congress ourselves or have dealt with the legislative process; all of us deeply value the critical role of Congress in foreign affairs and appreciate that budgets are ultimately a legislative matter,” it said. “Nonetheless, we feel it is important to convey to you directly the profound effect this budget decision will have on our alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific.”
Many backers of the legislation in Congress have warned that failure to follow through on aid to Ukraine could embolden China in the region. The ambassadors said that nations with expansionist ideas would take note of the outcome when lawmakers hold what the letter described as one of the most consequential votes in a generation.
“Not only will our allies and partners take stock of this moment, so will our adversaries,” it said. “The credibility of our commitment to collective security and deterrence hangs in the balance.”
The package slated for a vote on Wednesday would send $60 billion in additional assistance to Ukraine, $14 billion to Israel and nearly $5 billion for partners in the Indo-Pacific to counter China.