U.S. lawmaker stresses Congress’ ‘long-term’ commitments to S. Korea regardless of who’s in White House

WASHINGTON, A U.S. lawmaker on Friday highlighted Congress' "long-term" security commitment to South Korea and its "very big" role in maintaining a robust South Korea-U.S. alliance, amid concerns that the outcome of the U.S. presidential election in November could affect the bilateral relationship. Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) made the remarks as speculation has lingered that should former President Donald Trump return to the White House for a second term, he could employ what is known as a "transactional" foreign policy approach that could stoke tension in the alliance. "I think Congress will, in a very bipartisan way, try to continue to maintain our long-term commitments regardless of who's in the White House," Bera said during an event organized by the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Korea Studies. He was responding to a question over whether Congress can play a role in case Trump would try to reduce U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) troop levels or drive a hard bargain over Seoul's share of the cost for stationing American troops in Korea. On those issues, Congress has a "very big" role to play, Bera stressed. "There is a very big role for Congress, which we demonstrated in the prior administration, when former President Trump talked about reducing troop presence. Congress acted very quickly in a bilateral way to put mechanisms in place that would make that fairly difficult," he said. "On the burden sharing, Congress weighed in pretty significantly as well because we understand that the geopolitical security relationships (are) incredibly important not just to maintaining peace and prosperity on the peninsula. It's incredibly important to the U.S. maintaining peace and prosperity in the region as well as the world," he added. Trump's foreign policy approach came sharply into focus this month as he made controversial remarks on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) last week. During a campaign rally in South Carolina on Feb. 10, Trump said that if reelected, he would "encourage" R ussia to "do whatever the hell they want" to "delinquent" NATO members that fail to meet their defense spending commitments. The remarks caused worries in South Korea, a country that relies on its sole treaty ally, the United States, for nuclear deterrence at a time when the North has called the South its "primary" foe, and escalated tensions with formidable weapons tests. Source: Yonhap News Agency