Senate committee to meet this week over bipartisan Taiwan defense bill

By | September 12, 2022

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will meet this week to debate a bipartisan bill aimed at increasing U.S. support for Taiwan.

Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced the Taiwan Policy Act of 2022 in June. If passed and signed into law, it would give Taiwan nearly $4.5 billion in security aid and would help Taiwan counter Chinese coercion.

“As Beijing continues to seek to coerce and isolate Taiwan there should be no doubt or ambiguity about the depth and strength of our determination to stand with the people of Taiwan and their democracy,” Menendez said in a statement when he and Graham introduced the bill in June. He called the bill “a seminal statement of the United States’ absolute commitment to stand with Taiwan and all those who share our interests and our values in the Indo-Pacific in the face of Beijing’s military, economic, and diplomatic threats and bullying.”

The bill calls for several methods of cooperating with Taiwan, including “negotiating a bilateral free trade agreement,” recognizing their elected government “as the legitimate representative of the people of Taiwan,” and using a Foreign Military Financing Program and other measures “to accelerate the modernization of Taiwan’s defense capabilities required to deter or, if necessary, to defeat an invasion of Taiwan by the People’s Republic of China.”

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“When it comes to Taiwan, our response should be that we are for democracy and against communist aggression,” Graham said in June. “We live in dangerous times. China is sizing up America and our commitment to Taiwan. The danger will only grow worse if we show weakness in the face of Chinese threats and aggression toward Taiwan. I’m hopeful we will receive large bipartisan support for our legislation and that the Biden Administration will sign on in support.”

The Biden administration, however, was reportedly not on board as of August.

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“The White House has significant concerns. I have significant concerns,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told Bloomberg. Murphy said that while it “makes sense for us to draw closer to Taiwan,” he said he was “not sure this is the moment to throw out 40 years of policy.”

Murphy is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will have a markup of the bill on Wednesday.

The Bloomberg report came out after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, the first speaker to go there in decades. China issued threats over Pelosi’s visit and has ramped up aggressive behavior toward Taiwan since then.

Graham and Menendez led their own delegation on a trip to Taiwan in April. They, along with Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., Robert Portman, R-Ohio, and Ben Sasse, R-Neb., as well as Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Texas, met with Taiwanese officials, including Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.