The TPSA would establish an official US policy that only the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Buddhist community could decide his succession. But even as the bill worked its way through Congress, the US ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom made it clear what the US position already was.

Speaking at a Tibetan performing arts conference in Dharamsala, Ambassador Sam Brownback noted that the Tibetan community had recently passed a unanimous resolution stating that China had no right to interfere in the reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhist leaders. “Let me be clear,” Brownback said. “The United States shares that view. We believe that Tibetans, like all faith communities, must be able to practice their faith freely and select their leaders without interference.”