WASHINGTON — Republicans and Congressional Democrats are rallying behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi by urging her to proceed with a possible visit to Taiwan, despite President Joe Biden saying the Department of Defense believes such a trip “is not a good idea at this time.” be.
China has gone much further, warning it would respond with “violent action” if Pelosi, D-Calif., sets foot on the democratic island that Beijing regards as a breakaway province.
The potential visit has sparked a rare and high-profile intra-party rift between Pelosi — a staunch defender of Taiwan and outspoken critic of China’s human rights abuses — and Biden administration officials concerned that tensions with the Asian superpower are escalating.
But it also created a bipartisan entity on Capitol Hill.
“If I were the speaker, I would go,” said Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, who has served in Congress for Pelosi for more than two decades.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who previously served with Pelosi in the House of Representatives, said: “If she wants to go, I think she should go. And I think she should be more motivated to go now that she’s been discouraged, and colleagues should join her.”
Florida Senator Rick Scott, who chairs the GOP’s Senate campaign team, said, “I think it’s important that we go there and tell Taiwan that they’re a key Democratic ally. We should be aware that if they are attacked by communist China, we will support them.”
Several Democrats offered similar encouragement.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Rep. Bill Pascrell, DN.J.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-Conn., a member of the Intelligence Committee, said, “The Chinese will not restrict the House Speaker’s travel.”
Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., a member of Pelosis’ leadership team, said, “No one should go anywhere because the Chinese government — guilty of genocide — is speaking in threatening language.”
Newt Gingrich was the last House Speaker to visit Taiwan, and that was in 1997. Pelosi visited Taiwan in 1999, when she was not yet in office.
However, some Democrats said the timing of a trip to Taiwan carries both economic and geopolitical risks. Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to hold a phone call soon that will cover topics ranging from tensions over Taiwan and the war in Ukraine to managing US-China competition, a White House spokesman said Tuesday.
A House Democrat, who asked not to be known to speak about the political dynamic, said: “Many Republicans want her to go as a show of strength, while many Democrats are concerned about the risk of an unnecessary provocation — especially given the high inflation and unstable oil market.” and Russia’s war in Ukraine.”
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, expressed some reservations about Pelosi’s trip.
“I think we should be purposeful. If we change our Taiwan policy, we should make it a joint decision. Let’s not accidentally do it through a series of uncoordinated steps,” Murphy said.
“Obviously, the visit of the Speaker of the House of Representatives to Taiwan is a significant step that indicates recognition – formal diplomatic recognition is not part of our current policy,” he said.
Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said he also has concerns, but added that Pelosi needs to make the trip now lest the US appear weak in the face of China threats.
“Had I been consulted, I would have advised against the trip at this point. But now that it’s public, we need to show that no country dictates where we travel and who we meet,” Phillips said. “The world is watching, and it is imperative that the United States reiterate its beliefs and resolve.”
Pelosi, 82, had hoped to lead an official congressional delegation to Taiwan in the spring but was sidelined by a last-minute Covid diagnosis. In the last few days there was reports she would try again during the August holidays. A Pelosi spokesman said her office will “neither pre-approve nor deny international travel due to long-standing security protocols.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, DR.I., agreed with Phillips that it was difficult for Pelosi to “back down now.” But he added that she could “turn down the volume” by taking a smaller group of lawmakers and flying on a private plane rather than a military or government plane.
“I think she has to go, but she can take steps to make it a fact-finding mission and not something that could be exploited by the other side,” Reed said. “That’s the danger: the Chinese could exploit the visit for their own needs.”
Congress is poised to pass key legislation to boost domestic computer chip production and competition with China. The package known as “CHIPS-plus” was granted on Tuesday central procedural hurdle in the Senate; It’s on track to pass both chambers by the end of the week.
At his weekly news briefing Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., addressed what he called a “shut up” about Pelosi’s travel plans.
“I think it’s much more important than going to Taiwan to make sure that we’ve worked with them to make sure their defenses are adequate to the threats that could come from mainland China,” said McConnell, whose wife is the former Minister of Transport Elaine Chao, was born in Taipei.
“I think we should refocus on what kind of military equipment they have – is that the right kind? And if not, work with them to make sure they actually have weapons that will deter the Chinese should such an attack occur.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/congress/democrats-republicans-agree-pelosi-visit-taiwan-bidens-warning-rcna40146 Pelosi was due to visit Taiwan despite Biden’s warning