Albanese discusses key AUKUS legislation with U.S. President Biden

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has arrived in the U.S. to discuss a number of key touchpoints with President Joe Biden, the visit is set to stretch out over four days.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has arrived in the U.S. to discuss a number of key touchpoints with President Joe Biden, the visit is set to stretch out over four days.

In a video posted to the PM’s Twitter account, Albanese pointed to three key reasons for his U.S. visit, chief among them the AUKUS-related legislation which involves Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines.

“The first pillar is our defence relationship. Making sure that the AUKUS arrangements are put in place and talking with Congress and the Senate about the legislation that’s required to turn this vision into a practical reality.”

In March, the British, Australian and US governments unveiled details of the AUKUS program, which will see Australia provided with nuclear-powered attack submarines from the early 2030s onwards to help counter China’s ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region.

Opening his four-day official visit to Washington, Mr Albanese spoke to reporters stating he had begun speaking to US legislators about passing the Pentagon’s budget bills, which contains a provision to sell Virginia-class submarines to Australia under the AUKUS pact.

“We are able to talk with legislators. And we’re very confident that those discussions have been very productive,” the PM said.

When asked whether Australia was prepared to increase that A$3 billion contribution to help convince Republicans to support the legislation, Mr Albanese stated Australia’s existing funding for AUKUS was “appropriate”.

The AUKUS submarine program is facing resistance, however, from some congressional Republicans and the US House of Represen­tatives is still unable to function because of divisions over the election of a new Speaker.

Republicans, who hold a slim majority in the 435-seat lower house, were scheduled to determine which of the nine potential candidates for speaker could seek a vote on the floor of the House on Monday night.

Congress has been without a Speaker since October 3rd, an unprecedented period that has left the US government unable to pass laws or amendments, including critical legislation to facilitate AUKUS.

While this complicates matters, Mr Albanese has stated he would lobby for the passage of the $US105bn military aid bill, which includes $3.4bn to bolster US submarine production to help promised sales to Australia.

The PM also plans to discuss elements of Australia’s free trade agreement with the U.S., climate change and critical minerals, including the US$3 trillion Inflation Reduction Act, an agreement which focuses heavily on clean energy investments and a reduction in emissions.

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