Back in June of 2019, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced H.R.3493, also known as the “United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs Act of 2019,” or …USALAA? He also introduced the same bill in March of 2017, March of 2015, and April of 2014. The bills themselves have gained little traction beyond getting referred to their appropriate committees, but Congressman Sensenbrenner’s commitment to Arctic security does not go unnoticed.
The United States is likely the only Arctic country that lacks adequate, cross-agency representation in the High North. As an example, Canada, for the first time in its history, has a “Minister of Northern Affairs,” MP Dan Vandel, who works within PM Justin Trudeau’s cabinet to ensure the needs of the Canadian Arctic are being met. (They also have very helpful Twitter accounts in English and French that articulate Canada’s international Arctic policy.)
The U.S. must take diplomatic action to strengthen our role and maintain stability in the Arcitc
Congressman Sesenbrenner is looking to change that. In his press release announcing H.R.3493, he said: “At a time when Russia and China are expanding their ambitions and influence throughout the Arctic Circle, the U.S. must take diplomatic action to strengthen our role and maintain stability in this strategic region of the world. By assigning a permanent Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs, America can provide a check to these adversarial powers. I applaud Secretary of State Pompeo for acknowledging the importance of the region and urge my colleagues to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”
The United States needs a renewed commitment to the security of not only our own territory in the Arctic, but also of broader international security initiatives in tandem with our Northern allies. We believe that H.R.3493 is a step in the right direction, and encourage congressional leadership to take decisive action on this bill.