US House passes the Quad Act to strengthen cooperation among members

The Quad leaders meeting during the G7 meetings in Japan May 19, 20, 21, 2023. PHOTO: Twitter @narendramodi

On February 15, 2024, the United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved the “Strengthening the Quad Act” H.R. 5375 in a 379-39 vote.

The legislative measure, brought forth by Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Gregory Meeks (D-NY-5), marks a pivotal stage in the procedural sequence that mandates the Senate’s approval before the President signs it into the law.

“The United States should continue to strengthen joint cooperation between the United States, Australia, India, and Japan… to enhance and implement a shared vision to meet regional challenges and to promote a free, open, inclusive, resilient, and healthy Indo-Pacific, that is characterized by respect for democratic norms, rule of law, and market-driven economic growth, and is free from undue influence and coercion,” emphasized the Act passed in the House.

Calling for a “strategy for bolstering engagement and cooperation” among the Quad nations the Act also directed setting up of a “Quad Intra-Parliamentary Working Group” aimed at fostering increased collaboration on common interests and shared values.

The Act stated that the Quad Intra-Parliamentary Working Group will “sustain and deepen engagement between senior officials of the Quad countries on a full spectrum of issues” adding it will “be modeled on the successful and long-standing bilateral intra-parliamentary groups between the United States and Mexico, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as well as other formal and informal parliamentary exchanges.”

It further said, within 60 days from the enactment of this Act, the US Secretary of State is mandated to initiate negotiations with other Quad nations including Japan, Australia, and India with an objective to draft a formal agreement aimed at establishing the Working Group.

According to the Act, there will be 24 members from the US Congress chosen to be part of the Working Group. Among them, half will be designated by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, while the remaining half will be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

The Act necessitated within 180 days from the enactment, the Secretary of State is required to present to the congressional committees, a plan outlining efforts to enhance involvement and collaboration among Quad members. It further said the strategy must clearly outline “how the United States intends to demonstrate democratic leadership in the Indo-Pacific through quadrilateral engagement with India, Japan, and Australia on shared interests and common challenges.”

Appreciating President Joe Biden’s decision to raising the Quad to the leaders’ level as “critical” the Act maintained that the decision furthered cooperation among Quad nations. It also recommended that it is imperative to collaborate among members to ensure the Quad Leaders’ Summit takes place regularly.

The Act also encouraged that the “ambitious framework for ongoing cooperation” established by leaders at the fifth Quad Leaders’ Summit in Hiroshima on May 20, 2023, should continue.

It further noted that the Quad nations, working through institutions such as the International Development Finance Corporation of the United States, and the International Cooperation Agency of Japan, and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation by way of ongoing collaborations with institutions like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, should direct funding for “development and infrastructure projects” in the Indo-Pacific region prioritizing competitiveness, transparency, and sustainability.

The 2024 Quad Leaders’ Summit is scheduled to take place in New Delhi, India. In September last year, US Ambassador to India, Eric Garcetti publicly acknowledged that on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders’ Summit in September in New Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited President Biden to be the chief guest at India’s 75th Republic Day celebrations on January 26th. Since President Biden declined PM Modi’s invitation due to prior local commitments, the scheduled January 2024 Quad Leaders’ Summit was also consequently postponed.

Participating in a panel discussion at the 17th edition of Jaipur Literature Festival on February 3rd on the topic “Heart of the Matter: QUAD and the New Indo-Pacific Vision” along with former Prime Minister of Australia, Malcolm Turnbull, High Commissioner of Australia to India, Philip Green, Ambassador of Japan to India, Hiroshi Suzuki, and India’s former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, Garcetti said “Absolutely. It will take place right after the [2024 November US Presidential] elections,” responding to a question about the next Quad Leaders’ Summit in India.



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