|The presidential inaugural platform is under construction in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Nov. 9. The U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on two resolutions emphasizing the Korea-U.S. alliance this week. AFP-Yonhap|
By Jung Da-min
Stalemated negotiations between the United States and Korea over the sharing of costs for the stationing of the United States Forces Korea (USFK) are expected to get a boost, with the U.S. House of Representatives planning to vote on a resolution calling for a strengthening of the alliance with Korea this week.
The resolution, "Expressing the importance of the United States alliance with the Republic of Korea and the contributions of Korean Americans in the United States," was introduced by Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-NY) in January this year and is expected to be passed at a scheduled House plenary meeting Wednesday (local time).
The resolution, which emphasizes the history and importance of the alliance between the countries in various sectors including national security and trade, is especially drawing attention as it is likely to change the U.S. stance for the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) negotiations with Korea.
While the allies have yet to reach an agreement over this year's defense cost sharing to keep 28,500 USFK troops here, Korea's earlier proposal of a 13-percent increase of its share from last year has been turned down by U.S. President Donald Trump who has demanded a near 50-percent hike to $1.3 billion from the $870 million contributed last year.
The resolution, which has a high chance of being passed, is expected to bring a relatively favorable situation to Korea in terms of its security partnership with the U.S., along with the election of Joe Biden, who recently told President Moon Jae-in that Korea is a "lynchpin of the security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region," highlighting the importance of the alliance between the two countries.
It may also change the duration of the SMA that is now negotiated every year, as the resolution highlighted the need for a multi-year agreement. Earlier the SMA had been a two- to five-year agreement, but the period was shortened to one year in 2018 during the Trump administration.
"The alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States, our national security interests, the 9,000 South Korean civilians working to support the joint mission of United States Forces Korea and the 28,500 United States military service members currently stationed in South Korea, are best served by the conclusion of mutually agreeable, multi-year Special Measures Agreements," read the resolution submitted by Suozzi.
A similar resolution has also been introduced separately, by Rep. Ami Bera (D, CA-7) and Ted Yoho (R-FL) to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War and strong partnership between the U.S. and Korea. It is also scheduled to be put to a vote during the plenary session.
"The Republic of Korea is considered one of the greatest success stories in the post-World War II era and constitutes one of the lynchpins of United States foreign policy in Northeast Asia … It is in the national interest of the United States to maintain its forward deployed presence in the Republic of Korea through United States Forces Korea (USFK), a premier Joint Force that is 'well led, disciplined, trained and ready to Fight Tonight and win,'" read the resolution.