U.S. Congress makes progress on defense bill with new Taiwan provisions
Washington, June 21 (CNA) Both houses of the United States Congress have made progress on their respective drafts of an annual defense policy bill -- the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) -- that includes provisions to strengthen defense-related engagement with Taiwan.
In the Senate, the Armed Services Committee said last Thursday that it had passed a draft version of the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2023 in a bipartisan 23-3 vote and had sent it to the full Senate for consideration.
According to a summary released by the committee, the draft bill will require engagement with Taiwanese officials to develop and implement a multiyear plan for the acquisition of appropriate defensive capabilities.
It will also mandate engagement with Taiwan on a series of combined training, exercises and planning activities, the committee said.
The U.S.' policy will be to maintain its armed forces "to deny a fait accompli against Taiwan," in order to deter China from using military force to unilaterally change the status quo with Taiwan, the committee said in the summary.
The draft Senate bill calls for a total of US$857.6 billion in defense spending, an increase of US$44 billion over the US$813.3 billion requested by President Joe Biden, and it is an increase of US$87 billion from last year's defense budget.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee on Monday released the full text of its draft version of the 2023 NDAA, which is still in the committee's markup process and will be reviewed on June 22.
In its current form, the House's draft bill largely hews to the final version of the NDAA that was signed into law last year, with the exception of an expanded "sense of Congress" section on U.S.-Taiwan defense relations.
While the 2022 NDAA commits to supporting Taiwan's acquisition of defense articles with an emphasis on asymmetric capabilities, the 2023 House draft specifies that this may include "anti-ship, coastal defense, anti-armor, air defense [and] undersea warfare" capabilities.
The section also contains a new phrase that says the U.S. should be "committed to the defense of a free and open society in the face of aggressive efforts by [China] to curtail or influence the free exercise of rights or democratic franchise."
The current House draft would authorize a lower amount of US$802.4 billion in defense spending.
Typically, both houses of Congress would pass their own versions of the NDAA and negotiate a reconciliation of the bill to be signed into law -- a process that in 2022 was not completed until December.
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