Blinken warns of ‘problematic behavior’ from China during Tonga visit

Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned of "problematic behavior," from China during his visit to the Polynesian island of Tonga on Wednesday.

"What I think one of the things that we've seen is that as China's engagement in the region has grown, there has been some, from our perspective, increasingly problematic behavior," Blinken said, pointing to concerns over China's "unlawful maritime claims," "predatory" economic activity and investments that "promote corruption."

The comment follows Blinken's high-stakes trip to China last month, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping amid rising tensions between the countries. The trip to Tonga is Blinken's third visit to the Asia-Pacific region over the past two months, having also visited Indonesia.

The trip comes as part of the White House's efforts to push back on China's growing influence in the Pacific islands region and increase the U.S. presence. In a notice sent to Congress earlier this month, the State Department said it is planning a sharp increase in diplomatic personnel and spending for new U.S. embassies in the Pacific islands.

Meeting with Tongan Prime Minister Siaosi ‘Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni on Wednesday, Blinken dedicated a new U.S. embassy in Tonga that opened two months ago.

"We acknowledged a changing global landscape, the impacts of conflict and the strategic importance of the Pacific Island region," Sovaleni said.

He also told reporters that Tonga's growing partnership with the U.S. is rooted in a "shared respect for democracy, the rule of law, and the rights of freedom of others." Solvaleni said he and Blinken discussed the focuses of the partnership, including the climate crisis, education and defense.

When asked about Tonga's debt to China, Sovaleni said the country has officially started to pay off the debt and does not "have any problems or concerns," about it.

"When we talk about 'free and open,' we mean a region where all countries are free to choose their own path and their own partners; where problems are dealt with openly; where rules are reached transparency and applied fairly; where goods, where ideas, where people can move freely and lawfully," Blinken said.

The secretary of State will next head to New Zealand to meet with officials and watch the Women's World Cup soccer match between the U.S. and Netherlands. He will then visit Brisbane, Australia, to meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Australian counterparts.

The Associated Press contributed.

Federal court blocks Biden rule limiting asylum

A federal judge Tuesday blocked a new Biden administration rule that limited access to asylum, issuing a decision that will take effect in two weeks.

The ruling from a federal judge in California is a major loss for the Biden administration, which imposed new restrictions on asylum-seekers, including that they must first seek the protections if offered in another country along their route to the U.S. 

The rule, finalized in May, also limits the ability to seek asylum between ports of entry. 

In blocking the rule, U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar repeatedly referenced U.S. asylum law, writing that the new policy undermines the clear intent of Congress in establishing a safe haven for those fleeing persecution and danger.

“Requiring noncitizens to present at ports of entry effectively [constitutes] a categorical ban on migrants who use a method of entry explicitly authorized by Congress,” Tigar wrote in the ruling.

“Conditioning asylum eligibility on presenting at a port of entry or having been denied protection in transit conflicts with the unambiguous intent of Congress,” he added later.

The suit stems from a challenge led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), though the policy also generated lawsuits from GOP-led states.

“The ruling is a victory, but each day the Biden administration prolongs the fight over its illegal ban, many people fleeing persecution and seeking safe harbor for their families are instead left in grave danger,” Katrina Eiland, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case, said in a statement. 

“The promise of America is to serve as a beacon of freedom and hope, and the administration can and should do better to fulfill this promise, rather than perpetuate cruel and ineffective policies that betray it.”

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which promulgated the rule, did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though the Department of Justice is expected to appeal the ruling.

“We strongly disagree with today’s ruling and are confident that the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways rule is lawful,” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement, referencing the formal title of the rule.

He noted the Department of Justice will appeal the decision and seek a stay pending appeal. 

“Because the district court temporarily stayed its decision, today’s ruling does not change anything immediately.  It does not limit our ability to deliver consequences for unlawful entry. Do not believe the lies of smugglers. Those who fail to use one of the many lawful pathways we have expanded will be presumed ineligible for asylum and, if they do not have a basis to remain, will be subject to prompt removal, a minimum five-year bar on admission, and potential criminal prosecution for unlawful reentry,” he said.

The rule had prompted howls from critics who argued DHS was turning to policies strikingly similar to those proposed under former President Trump. While the Biden rule had some mechanisms for migrants to fight determinations that they were ineligible for asylum, like the Trump-era third country transit ban it effectively blocked asylum for those who did not first seek it along their route.

Immigration advocates have argued few other countries have functional asylum systems to offer such protections.

But in some regard, DHS appeared to have reservations about the rule.

“To be clear, this was not our first preference or even our second,” a senior administration official told reporters when previewing the policy in February.

The court’s ruling follows the decision by the Biden administration to lift Title 42, another Trump-era policy that used the pandemic as a rationale for expelling migrants without letting them seek asylum — another contravention of asylum law.

Border crossings have dipped since the rescission of Title 42, a factor the administration credits both to the new limitations on asylum as well as the creation of new parole programs for Cubans, Haitians, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans that allows temporary admittance to the country.

Updated at 4:39 p.m.

List of Democrats boycotting Modi’s address to Congress grows

The list of Democratic lawmakers boycotting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's joint address to Congress on Thursday is growing.

Progressive Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) and Summer Lee (D-Pa.) on Thursday said they wouldn't attend the event. They join fellow progressive Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

“When it comes to standing up for human rights, actions speak louder than words," Bush and Bowman said in a joint statement with Tlaib and Omar.

The statement blasted the decision to invite the Indian leader adding that "by bestowing Prime Minister Modi with the rare honor of a joint address, Congress undermines its ability to be a credible advocate for the rights of religious minorities and journalists around the world."

The lawmakers added that they "stand in solidarity with the communities that have been harmed by Modi and his policies."

"We must never sacrifice human rights at the altar of political expediency and we urge all Members of Congress who profess to stand for freedom and democracy to join us in boycotting this embarrassing spectacle.”

Lee, in a separate statement, said Modi's government "has targeted journalists, emboldened violent Hindu nationalist groups, and jailed political opponents."

"We are not true allies if we cannot push them to uphold basic human rights and religious freedoms," she added.

The statements come just hours before the Indian prime minister was set to arrive at the Capitol. 

Modi's speech to the joint session of Congress comes hours after he met with President Biden and announced a slew of military, tech and health deals between the U.S. and India. 

During the joint press conference at the White House, Modi brushed aside a question about human rights abuses and democratic backsliding in his country.

While Democrats in both the House and the Senate have urged Biden to address the issue of human rights in his meetings with Modi, the historic address is set to be a widely attended event.

Ocasio-Cortez joins other squad members in boycotting Modi speech

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is joining other progressives in boycotting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's joint address to Congress.

In a tweet, the New York Democrat urged her colleagues who stand for "pluralism, tolerance and freedom of speech" to join her boycott.

Ocasio-Cortez highlighted Modi's previous ban from entering the U.S. and reports from the State Department on India's record on religious freedoms, as well as the country's current ranking in the Press Freedom Index.

"A joint address is among the most prestigious invitations and honors the United States Congress can extend. We should not do so for individuals with deeply troubling human rights records - particularly for individuals whom our own State Department has concluded are engaged in systematic human rights abuses of religious minorities and caste-oppressed communities," Ocasio-Cortez added.

Her statement comes a day after Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), the two Muslim women in Congress, said they would not be attending the Indian leader's speech.

Tlaib added Tuesday on Twitter that Modi’s “long history of human rights abuses, anti-democratic actions, targeting Muslims and religious minorities, and censoring journalists is unacceptable.”

“Prime Minister Modi’s government has repressed religious minorities, emboldened violent Hindu nationalist groups, and targeted journalists/human rights advocates with impunity,” Omar wrote in her own statement.

While Democrats in both the House and the Senate have urged President Biden to address the issue of human rights in his meetings with Modi, the historic address is set to be a widely attended event.

This will be the Indian prime minister’s second address to the joint session of Congress and first official state visit to the United States.

Europe relaxes after US midterms, but fears of a 2024 Trump win run high

America’s allies in Europe breathed a sigh of relief as the U.S. midterm contests come to a close. U.S. allies believe slimmer margins of control between Democrats and Republicans in Congress will not jeopardize American support to Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.  

From Kyiv to Berlin and Tbilisi, Georgia, fears that a larger Republican majority would move the U.S. back into the isolationist mindset of the Trump presidency were squashed. But the international community will be closely watching what a likely divided government means for President Biden’s leadership role among allies. 

But even amid European relief, a group of Republicans largely backed by former President Trump still put the fate of U.S. support to Ukraine increasingly under strain. 

The United States is the largest supplier of military and economic assistance to Ukraine, and Europeans are bracing for a potential Trump comeback after the former president teased announcing a 2024 run. 

“I think there's kind of a bit of a relief, especially in Europe … that the march of MAGA Republicanism, Trumpism seems to have stopped in its tracks a bit,” said Matthias Matthijs, senior fellow for Europe at the Council on Foreign Relations. “That’s at least the interpretation here. That this is not a foregone conclusion that 2024 will result in some sort of isolationist presidency again.” 

Khatia Dekanoidze, an opposition lawmaker from Georgia, told The Hill that the Georgian public are “interested in who will be winning in the House and who will be running the Senate and what the balance is, what would be decided regarding Ukrainian support.” 

“Also it’s very interesting from the people’s perspective, will Trump be back? It’s a very common question,” she added.  

Yevgen Korniychuck, Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel, told The Hill that Kyiv is watching closely the “minority of pro-Trump” Republicans, raising concern that “they are not really happy with support of Ukraine.” 

“But the full majority will be in support, I’m sure. This is the most important for us,” he said.  

Europeans are also paying close attention to the presidential aspirations of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has increasingly come under attacks from Trump, signaling his outsized influence in the GOP.  

“Ron DeSantis has arrived as a name in the German press,” said Peter Rough, a senior fellow at Hudson Institute with a focus on Europe.   

“[The Germans] say Ron DeSantis may be even more dangerous than Trump because he can actually implement and execute his policies, unlike DJT [Donald J. Trump]. ‘Trump but with a brain,’ they said last night on the [German] prime-time talk show I was on.” 

Europeans welcomed Biden's focus on improving the transatlantic relationship that was made a target by Trump, who threatened to pull out of NATO, antagonized leaders in Germany and France and embraced far-right outliers like Hungary’s Prime Minister Victor Orbán.  

“There’s no question that folks in Europe do wonder what’s going to happen in 2024,” said Marjorie Chorlins, senior vice president for Europe at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “They do see the more hawkish, less pro-transatlantic rhetoric that came out of the last administration as a problem and that there’s a risk that’s going to come back.”  

Chorlins said that Europeans welcome closer cooperation with the U.S., and are looking to leverage the unity Biden rallied in support for Ukraine — coordinating sanctions against Moscow and pooling military and economic assistance for Kyiv — to address other aspects of the American relationship with the European Union.  

“The question is whether we can leverage the unity that we found around Ukraine and Russia, and take that energy and apply it in other ways,” she said.   

Biden, in a post-midterm-election press conference on Wednesday, said that the “vast majority” of allies are looking to cooperate when asked how other world leaders should view this moment for the U.S., with Trump teasing another presidential run. 

Biden further warned against isolationism that Trump had embraced. 

“What I find is that they want to know: Is the United States stable? Do we know what we’re about? Are we the same democracy we've always been?” the president said. “Because, look, the rest of the world looks to us. … If the United States tomorrow were to, quote, ‘withdraw from the world,’ a lot of things would change around the world.” 

Emily Horne, former National Security Council spokesperson and special assistant to Biden, called the midterm elections the dog that didn’t bark for European allies and partners. 

“There’s some temporary relief now, but not on the bigger question of 2024 and whether Trump or someone like him could come back and derail so much of the progress that we have been able to make together with Europe, not just on Ukraine, but on everything from getting COVID under control to preparing for future pandemics to tackling climate change,” said Horne, founder of Allegro Public Affairs. 

Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) who could become the next House Speaker, raised eyebrows last month when he said Republicans would scrutinize aid to Ukraine if they have a majority, comments he has since tried to defend as oversight rather than a lack of support for Ukraine.  

Biden on Wednesday said he is optimistic that funding and bipartisan support for Ukraine would continue, adding that he would be surprised if there’s a majority of Republicans who are unwilling to help.  

Horne argued that it would be a gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin if a Republican-led House puts a halt to the flow of munitions to Ukrainians. She added that while McCarthy knows the consequences of such a move, it comes down to the others in his camp. 

“The question is, can he control the actors in his caucus that care more about their Twitter sound bites than doing the right thing by both U.S. security interests in Europe and the Ukrainian people?” Horne said.  

But, she added, there is an understanding among allies that “there are individuals who get a lot of airtime who actually have very little sway over what’s in the policy that goes forward for the president's signature.” 

Allies worry about other aspects of a Republican majority in Congress and how it could impact Biden’s overall focus on the war in Ukraine and foreign policy issues like climate and China. 

With a potential Republican majority in the House, there is a concern among Europeans that GOP-led investigations into Biden could distract him from international affairs, Matthijs said. 

“There is worry in Europe that Biden will now be distracted by a House that will make his life miserable. That all we’re going to hear about is Hunter Biden’s laptop and these kinds of fake impeachment proceedings against the president, the vice president, the secretary of state, Tony Fauci, you name it,” he said. 

But, he said that Europeans feel “slightly better” about the U.S. overall after the midterm elections. 

“It doesn't mean much will change right away because of this election, but at least it's a very helpful reminder, I think, to a lot of people in Europe that the U.S. is capable of self-correction when it goes too much in one direction,” he said. 

How the midterms could impact the Russia-Ukraine war

The midterm elections, which are largely being fought over inflation, crime and other domestic issues, could have a huge impact on America’s role in the Russia-Ukraine war. 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the likely Speaker in a GOP majority, has talked about how Ukraine would not get a “blank check” from the U.S. with Republicans in control of the House.  

GOP victories by pro-Trump candidates in the House and Senate could also amplify isolationist voices that have questioned the Biden administration’s steady spending in support of Ukraine.  

“I just see a freight train coming, and that is Trump and his operation turning against aid for Ukraine,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told MSNBC last month, underscoring a widely-held concern among Democrats. He added that there could be “a real crisis where the House Republican majority would refuse to support additional aid to Ukraine.” 

Statements from GOP lawmakers such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) have added to the anxiety. During a rally last week, she said a GOP majority would not spend “another penny” on Ukraine.  

To be sure, there are many voices within the GOP that have been highly supportive of Ukraine during the conflict with Russia, including Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).  

Sen. James Risch (Idaho) and Rep. Michael McCaul (Texas), the top Republicans in the foreign affairs committees in each chamber, have been leading voices in support of arming Ukraine, often pushing for Biden to do more.   

Danielle Pletka, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Republican Senate foreign policy staff member, said a majority of Republicans want to back Ukraine against Russia’s aggression.  

“For me, it is about the great battle of the substantive versus the loud,” she said, placing figures like Greene in the latter category. “But these are not people who have any power at all in the House or the Senate.”

But it is also true that McCarthy’s comments reflect skepticism about U.S. economic and military support for Ukraine within his conference. 

And the first test of GOP resistance to additional Ukraine aid could come before the end of this session, with the Biden administration expected to push for another aid package during the lame-duck period before January.

Rep. Jim Banks (Ind.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, said McCarthy was “exactly right” with his no-blank-check comments.  

“Now Democrats are screaming and saying 'Well, McCarthy says that, we know he's gonna be Speaker of the House. We're gonna pass another $50 billion in the lame duck.' It’s just absurd. It’s insanity,” he told Fox News last month.  

That package is likely to pass with Democrats still in control of the House and Senate no matter the results of the midterms. But the level of GOP opposition could indicate how much of the caucus remains on board with strong support for Kyiv. And Banks’s remarks could find even more support if the U.S. economy tips into a recession in 2023.  

Ukraine is likely to be watching the results of the midterms with some anxiety, though Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told the BBC last week that he was confident that both parties would keep up support for Kyiv after meetings with lawmakers.  

“I got a lot of signals that it doesn't matter who will steer … bipartisan support for Ukraine will be continued,” he said. “I believe in that.” 

Andres Kasekamp, a political science professor at the University of Toronto who studies the war, said the GOP is “exploiting” the narrative that America must choose between investing in the U.S. on one hand or helping Ukraine on the other. He accused some in the GOP of abandoning the idea that upholding a rules-based international order is in the U.S. interest.  

“That used to be something that was common sense and in the DNA of the Republican Party,” he said. “Now the sort of populists on the far right of the Republican Party have changed the narrative, and it’s dangerous.” 

So far, Americans remain largely united behind U.S. support for Ukraine, thought recent polls have shown a growing partisan divide. 

Reuters-Ipsos poll conducted in early October found that 81 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of Republicans agreed that the U.S. should continue to support Ukraine, despite nuclear warnings from Russia.  

Wall Street Journal poll this month found that 81 percent of Democrats support additional financial aid for Ukraine, compared to 35 percent of Republicans. And almost half of Republicans said the U.S. is doing too much, up from 6 percent at the start of the war.  

“It plays right into the hands of Putin,” Kasekamp said of skepticism toward Ukraine support. “The Russians from the beginning have tried to dissuade the West from helping the Ukrainians.” 

Former President Trump has said current U.S. policy risks World War III, advocating instead for the U.S. to pressure Ukraine to open peace talks with Russia.  

Last month, he found rare common cause with progressive Democrats in the House, who released and then retracted a letter calling on President Biden to ramp up diplomatic efforts to end the war.  

Tuesday’s election could bolster the ranks of Ukraine skeptics. J.D. Vance, the Trump-backed GOP Senate nominee in Ohio, said earlier this year that he didn’t care about Ukraine, and wanted Biden to focus on the U.S. border.  

Pletka, the former GOP staffer, said she worried that the far right and far left — for different reasons — will decide to capitulate to Putin and pressure Ukraine to take a peace deal.  

“I could absolutely see the appeasement wing of the Democratic Party having a meeting of minds, if you can call them that, with the fortress America-first wing of the Republican party and doing the wrong thing,” she said.  

Despite Ukraine projecting confidence in continued support from both parties, Suriya Evans-Pritchard Jayanti, a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, said Kyiv has cause for concern.  

“Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy learned the hard way in 2019 how much domestic U.S. politics can affect Ukraine’s reality,” she wrote last week, referring to Trump’s first impeachment trial.  

“He and his team would be right to worry about next week’s polls. Whether or not the GOP will follow through on its threats to scale back Ukraine aid is impossible to predict, but it is definitely a real possibility,” she added. 

Pelosi courts controversy with Taiwan trip that’s personal to Speaker

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has stirred a storm of controversy, heightening tensions with China and captivating the world’s attention.

For the California Democrat, however, the trip is something much more personal.

Pelosi has a long track record of confronting Chinese leaders head-on, particularly on issues of human rights, stretching back decades to include the massacre of pro-democracy activists on Tiananmen Square.

Her decision to visit Taiwan — a self-governing democracy that Beijing claims as its own — ranks among the most conspicuous exhibitions of that advocacy campaign; Pelosi on Tuesday became the highest-ranking U.S. official to set foot in Taiwan in 25 years.

Through that lens, Pelosi's trek — taken in the twilight of her long career against the wishes of the Biden administration — is not only a diplomatic endeavor to demonstrate U.S. support for Taiwanese autonomy, but a legacy-building crusade for a figure who likes to boast she takes “second place to no one” in her condemnation of Beijing's human rights atrocities.

It’s a historic trip for a historic Speaker — and it may prove to be the crowning global performance of a long political run that’s widely expected to reach an end with the close of this Congress.

“Pelosi has a long history of challenging Beijing — including her visit to Tiananmen Square in 1991 – unfurling an American flag no less,” Sarah Binder, political science professor at George Washington University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said in an email Tuesday, just hours after the Speaker landed in Taipei.

“If she does indeed retire after this Congress, I suspect the trip will be viewed as the capstone of her legacy on the issue (well, if all goes well, that is),” Binder said.

That “if” has also been on the minds of top Biden administration officials, particularly those in the Pentagon who had cautioned against Pelosi’s visit over concerns that it would trigger a retaliatory response from Beijing. President Biden had vocalized the Defense Department’s apprehensions late last month, telling reporters that “the military thinks it’s not a good idea right now.”

Yet Biden never attempted to dissuade the trip himself, Pelosi said, and White House officials more recently have come around to bless the visit — at least publicly — while warning China against any sort of bellicose response.

“We shouldn’t be — as a country — we shouldn’t be intimidated by that rhetoric or those potential actions,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Monday in an interview with CNN. “This is an important trip for the Speaker to be on and we’re going to do whatever we can to support her.”

Chinese leaders have ignored those warnings, following up their initial admonitions with new threats after Pelosi arrived in Taipei. The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly issued a statement saying Pelosi’s visit not only represents “a serious violation of the one-China principle,” but will have “a severe impact on the political foundation of China-U.S. relations.”

“It gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and sends a seriously wrong signal to the separatist forces for ‘Taiwan independence,’ ” the ministry charged.

Shortly afterward, Beijing announced that it would launch “targeted military operations” around Taiwan.

Pelosi on Tuesday explained her reasoning behind the trip with some unveiled shots of her own, accusing Beijing’s leaders of doing everything they can — economically, diplomatically, militarily and even through cyberattacks — to punish Taiwan for its enduring resistance to Chinese rule.

“In the face of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) accelerating aggression, our congressional delegation’s visit should be seen as an unequivocal statement that America stands with Taiwan, our democratic partner, as it defends itself and its freedom,” Pelosi wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.

That message of democratic solidarity, she added, is even more urgent in the backdrop of Russia’s invasion of a peaceful Ukraine earlier in the year.

“As Russia wages its premeditated, illegal war against Ukraine, killing thousands of innocents — even children — it is essential that America and our allies make clear that we never give in to autocrats,” she wrote.

Pelosi’s place in history is already assured. She was the first woman to lead any party in Congress, and in ascending to the Speakership in 2007 became the highest-ranking woman in U.S. history — a distinction surpassed only last year when Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president.

Over that span, Pelosi shepherded the passage of historic legislation, including ObamaCare, an economic stimulus package in response to the Great Recession and the Wall Street reforms that followed that financial collapse. More recently, she oversaw both impeachments of President Trump, and launched the select committee that’s now investigating Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Her shift this week to take on China promises to extend that legacy well beyond domestic policy and into the realm of foreign diplomacy. Binder, of Brookings, said it has highlighted the fact that congressional legislators can play a crucial role in areas typically reserved for the executive branch.

“In a word, their actions can be consequential for public affairs far beyond the halls of Congress,” she said.

Pelosi’s outspoken campaign against China’s despots, launched with her 1991 visit to Tiananmen Square, hardly ended there. In the years since, the Speaker has also condemned Chinese abuses against pro-democracy activists across Hong Kong and Tibet; she’s pressed Chinese leaders directly to release political prisoners; she’s met a number of times with the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet; and most recently, she fiercely denounced Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghurs, a Muslim minority group in China’s western-most province, labeling it a genocide.

Pelosi’s show of solidarity with Taiwan this week has been met with overwhelming support on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers in both parties have cheered her defiance of Beijing, even as it ruffles feathers at the White House.

“I can see how it could create some tension in the region,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.). “But I was telling some people the other night: Don't get concerned about it. I don't think anybody's trying to create an international incident.

“If I had anything to say to the Chinese leadership it would just be: Be cool."

Republicans are also on board. Led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), 26 GOP senators issued a statement Tuesday praising her decision.

“She has every right to go,” McConnell later told reporters.