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U.S. House approves foreign aid package for Taiwan, Ukraine, Israel

04/21/2024 02:40 PM
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The U.S. Capitol Building. CNA file photo
The U.S. Capitol Building. CNA file photo

Taipei, April 21 (CNA) The United States House of Representatives approved a US$95 billion foreign aid package with bipartisan support Saturday to give additional funding to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, after the votes were delayed for months by House Republicans, some of whom objected to sending money overseas instead of the U.S.-Mexico border.

After clearing the House, the bills -- containing US$60.8 billion for Kyiv, US$26 billion for Israel and humanitarian aid for civilians in conflict zones, and US$8 billion for the Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific -- will be combined into a single piece of legislation, which the Senate is expected to pass on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden has promised to sign it into law immediately.

The supplemental defense funding was originally passed by the Senate as a single bill in February, but it had remained stalled in the Republican-led lower chamber since then.

Ultimately, House Speaker Mike Johnson split the Senate's US$95 billion defense supplemental into three separate bills, in the hopes of circumventing far-right GOP members who oppose extending further funds to Ukraine.

On Saturday, the Ukraine bill passed in a 311-112 vote, the Israel bill passed 366-58, and the Indo-Pacific bill containing provisions on Taiwan passed 385-34.

Aside from the bills to meet these countries' defensive needs, the House also passed a fourth supplemental bill as part of the package, which would ban TikTok in the United States unless its Chinese owners divest from the social media app.

It would also transfer US$5 billion in repossessed Russian assets to Ukraine and increase sanctions on Russia and Iran.

Taiwan's response

In response, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and Ministry of National Defense (MND) both thanked the U.S. House for approving the foreign aid in separate Sunday press statements.

Under the passed legislation, US$2 billion in Foreign Military Financing Program funds would go to Taiwan and other U.S. regional security partners to counter Chinese aggression, and another US$1.9 billion would go to replenishing defense articles and defense services provided to Taiwan and regional partners, according to both MOFA and the MND.

MOFA's statement thanked the U.S. Congress for passing the defense funding, which it said once again reaffirmed Washington's "rock-solid" commitment to helping Taiwan defend itself as both sides commemorate the 45th anniversary of the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act this April.

The MND, meanwhile, expressed the Taiwan military's gratitude for the pledged funding to support the country's defense, even amid the ongoing crisis in the Middle East and the Russian-Ukraine war.

The MND said it would continue to negotiate with the U.S. via existing channels to make sure the money would be spent in the right places to boost Taiwan's defense capabilities and safeguard regional peace and security.

(By Joseph Yeh)

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