The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a bill to bolster US security assistance to Taiwan, authorizing $6.5 billion over the next five years.
The bill was approved by a 17-5 vote, with Democratic Sens. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky voting against the measure, according to a Democratic aide.
The bill now heads to the Senate floor. It remains unclear when it will get a vote.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration approved more than $1.1 billion in arms sales to Taiwan, a move seen as likely to inflame already-heightened tensions between Washington and Beijing. The administration formally notified Congress of the proposed sales, which included up to 60 anti-ship missiles and up to 100 air-to-air missiles.
A State Department spokesperson said at the time that the sales were in line with the United States’ policy on Taiwan, noting the longstanding history of the US providing defensive weapons to the island.
The “swift provision” of such arms, they said, was “essential for Taiwan’s security and we will continue to work with industry to support that goal.”
Tensions between China and the US soared following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in early August. The visit marked the first US speaker to visit in 25 years at a time when Washington-Beijing relations have been especially tense.
US congressional delegations have also visited the self-governing island in recent weeks.
Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Menendez nodded to the visits in announcing the legislation on Wednesday.
“After soliciting and incorporating input from Members of the Committee to address wide-ranging views and concerns, holding multiple hearings and briefings on this issue, as well as allowing for Committee members to travel to Taiwan, we passed a comprehensive piece of legislation to lay a new and bipartisan path forward for U.S.-Taiwan policy that maintains cross-Strait stability, all while reinforcing a status quo that is under threat from Beijing and that, without reinforcement, would inevitably and invariably collapse,” the New Jersey Democrat said.
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