WASHINGTON — After last week’s dust-up over President Trump’s phone call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a resolution to assure Australia that it’s loved and valued by the United States.
Trump was upset over a deal made between President Obama and the Australian government for the U.S. to take 1,250 refugees, including from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, from detention centers on Manus Island and Nauru. The president reportedly declared it his worst call of the day and accused Turnbull of wanting to send “the next Boston bombers” to America.
“When you hear about the tough phone calls I’m having, don’t worry about it,” Mr Trump told the audience,” Trump later said in D.C., after blasting the “dumb deal” on Twitter. “Just don’t worry about it. They’re tough. We have to be tough. It’s time we have to be a little tough, folks. We are taken advantage of by every nation in the world virtually. It’s not going to happen anymore.”
Chief of staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon later met with Australian Ambassador Joe Hockey to smooth things over.
The new resolution introduced by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) “reaffirms the strong alliance relationship between Australia and the United States,” “supports continued diplomatic, military, and economic cooperation between Australia and the United States” and “reaffirms the importance of a U.S.-Australia relationship based on mutual respect and befitting a close and longstanding U.S. alliance partner crucial to the preservation of our national interests in the Indo-Asia Pacific and around the world.”
The resolution outlines U.S.-Australian cooperation dating back to World War I and how Aussies have had Washington’s back on several key foreign policy and military objectives.
“Australia shares many of the United States’ concerns in the struggle against Islamist militancy in Southeast Asia and beyond, and is part of the global coalition to defeat the ‘so-called Islamic State (IS),'” the resolution notes, adding “the United States and Australia have enjoyed a close relationship over many successive Republican and Democratic administrations.”
Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) signed on as original co-sponsors. Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced a companion resolution in the House.
“The people of the United States do not have better friends than the people of Australia,” declared Alexander. “As one Australian told me when my family lived in Sydney thirty years ago, ‘Well, we’re mates all right. The English may be our ancestors, but you Americans are our cousins – first cousins.’ Today, no two countries trust one another and cooperate in security arrangements more than American and Australia.”
“We trade, we stand by each other in war, we visit one another and our students study in each other’s universities,” the Tennessee Republican added. “It is always appropriate for the U.S. Senate to reaffirm the importance of that relationship.”
Markey said that “as President Trump disparages and disrespects our longstanding partners and allies, it is more vital than ever to strengthen our relationship with Australia.”
“We need to continue to strengthen our partnership with this essential ally in the decades ahead as we face common challenges in Asia and beyond,” Rubio said.