Focus Taiwan: U.S. House bill seeks to recognize AIT director as ambassador (update)

Washington, Dec. 23 (CNA) A bill being proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives would require directors of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) to receive confirmation in the Senate and be given the rank and status of an ambassador-at-large.

The “Taiwan Envoy Act,” which is being sponsored by Ohio Republican Steve Chabot and California Democrat Brad Sherman, cites the position’s ambassador-level importance by noting that “an extended period without a director…would be detrimental to United States interests.”

With the House currently in recess until Jan. 7, however, the bill will have to wait before it can be assigned to a committee.

A bill proposing a similar provision was introduced in 2007 by Colorado Republican Tom Tancredo, but it failed to make it through the committee process.

According to the State Department, U.S. presidents have appointed a total of 61 ambassadors-at-large since the position’s creation in 1949. Typically, they have dealt with specific foreign policy issues spelled out in their commissions.

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