Senate Republicans Use Biden's Reasoning in Rare Defense of Nancy Pelosi

In a rare move, more than half of the Senate GOP issued a statement in support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's controversial trip to Taiwan.

In a joint statement, 26 Republican Senators—including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell—backed the Democrat for her decision to make a stop on the island, despite warnings from the Chinese Communist Party that it would take "forceful action" should Pelosi go through with the stopover.

"For decades, members of the United States Congress, including previous Speakers of the House, have travelled to Taiwan," the Republicans said. "This travel is consistent with the United States' One China policy to which we are committed. We are also committed now, more than ever, to all elements of the Taiwan Relations Act."

On Tuesday, Pelosi became the first high-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan in 25 years. The last House speaker to stop on the island was Republican Newt Gingrich in 1997.

Senate Republicans Pelosi Biden
A majority of Republican senators issued a rare statement on Tuesday in support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Above, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was among the 26 GOP senators who issued the statement, speaks during a news briefing after a weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on July 12 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty Images

The reasons that the GOP senators cited looked similar to the same reasons the Biden administration has used to downplay the importance of a trip from Pelosi.

A day earlier, before her stop in Taiwan had been confirmed, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that should she decide to visit the island, "it's not without precedent."

"I think we've laid out very clearly that if she goes—if she goes—it's not without precedent. It's not new. It doesn't change anything," Kirby said. "We've not ramped up the rhetoric. We've not changed our behavior."

He added that President Joe Biden has made clear that Pelosi and other members of Congress make their own decisions about their overseas travels, although Biden has also cautioned his fellow Democrat that a trip to Taiwan is "not a good idea."

Pelosi, who is an ardent defender of Taiwan, has received bipartisan support over the planned stop in Taipei, but Beijing has repeatedly cautioned her not to make the trip to what it sees as a breakaway province from its One China Policy.

On Tuesday, she defended her decision to visit the island, saying that "it in no way contradicts longstanding United States policy" and that "America's solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy."

Here is the full list of Republican senators who backed Pelosi's trip to Taiwan:

  • Senator Kevin Cramer of North Dakota
  • Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska
  • Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky
  • Senator John Thune of South Dakota
  • Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
  • Senator Jim Risch of Idaho
  • Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri
  • Senator John Cornyn of Texas
  • Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming
  • Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska
  • Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee
  • Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina
  • Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alamba
  • Senator Steve Daines of Montana
  • Senator Susan Collins of Maine
  • Senator Deb Fischer of Nebraska
  • Senator Todd Young of Indana
  • Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa
  • Senator Rob Portman of Ohio
  • Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
  • Senator Mike Crapo of Indiana
  • Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina
  • Senator John Boozman of Arkansas
  • Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina
  • Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
  • Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

Correction 08/03/22 12:53 p.m. ET: An earlier version of this story said Tillis was from North Dakota.